The Other I

May 8, 2007

Doing good impresses me as a bad idea

A friend from my Maryknoll convent days close to 50 years ago is visiting this week from the States.  We were talking about how our values have changed since then, and she said that she has given up on theology and all the beliefs that so drove our lives.  What she has instead is an intuition of a benign force moving the universe toward something meaningful.

I have abandoned all the paraphernalia of belief as well, even revolting against the idea that there’s a God out there with a Plan into which we fit.  I don’t want to live according to somebody else’s plan, even God’s.  And I’m certainly not interested in playing a kind of hide-and-seek to try to figure out what it is that God supposedly has in mind.  It is my life, and my responsibility.  I think it is up to us to create meaning and to make something of this universe.  Somebody else out there isn’t going to make everything all right if we don’t do it ourselves.

On the other hand, I’m not at all sure anymore about going out there “doing good.”  Doing good assumes I know what is best for everybody else, and since I do not want governments or churches or my family telling me what’s best for me, I don’t think I should try being Lucy to everybody else’s Charlie either.  I think kindness matters and integrity, not because it benefits other people but because it reflects the respect I want to show for the life that is mine.

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