Jon Magidsohn questions if a man can stay in his comfortable world and still be “good”.
Graham Reid Phoenix recently wrote a moving and persuasive article for the Good Men Project asking the question, ‘What on earth is a good man?’ It’s a great question, the answer to which deserves discussion.
Phoenix posited that in order for us to be deemed ‘good’ we must look outside ourselves, to challenge the ‘world view’ head on in order to initiate change. If I’m paraphrasing correctly, he suggests that to be good we must make good happen.
We are complacent, Phoenix says. He may be right. Some of us have worked very hard for a long time in order to earn the right to be complacent. But he goes on to say: ‘For men to stay comfortable in their own world is for men to give up on themselves, their family and the world.’
This implies that ‘their own world’ is somehow not a part of the greater world; the world that other people must inhabit. It also suggests that staying ‘comfortable’ is selfish and non-inclusive.
A selfish man can still want to make change. He can also be good.
We don’t live in a vacuum, to overuse a phrase. I don’t know anyone, complacent or otherwise, who believes that what they choose to do does not affect other people. A man—or woman—can choose to strive for comfort in ‘their own world’ without giving up. How is that giving up? To want what’s best for ourselves and our families is very frequently a desire sought in order to make a change, not to avoid it.
When people band together for a common cause it’s called a movement. People who choose to be a part of a movement generally look at the big picture; ‘the world’. But this doesn’t mean they are the only ones who care about their families or the future. Nor does it mean they are the only people equipped to challenge the moral majority, as Phoenix suggest in his article.
‘For me,’ he says, ‘being good means going beyond what I feel inside myself into what I feel about the world outside.’
I believe we can make change on a small scale if that’s what we choose. We can influence change by choosing good spouses, raising good children, doing good work, learning good things, eating good food, making good friends, playing good music, speaking good words, thinking good thoughts.
We all must be the keepers of our own sense of ‘good’.
This is neither selfish nor dismissive. In order to think beyond ourselves we must first be able to acknowledge the truth within ourselves. Sometimes that’s all it takes to be good.
—Photo Karan Jain/Flickr
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