Defining ‘Good’

When you think of doing good, what kinds of things come to mind for you? Feeding the hungry, curing the sick, that sort of thing?

As I’ve been collecting nominations for the Edmonton Do Gooder project, it’s really highlighted the controversial nature of doing good. The nominees range from food bloggers to politicians to environmental activists.

I’m sure there are people who would not consider the environmental activist’s approach ‘good’. There are certainly some who don’t approve of the politician’s views on how to make good things happen. For almost every kind of work, you can probably find someone who believes it takes a bad approach or pursues undesirable goals.

This is fascinating – who decides what ‘good’ is? Just like one man’s treasure is another man’s trash, some people’s notions of what ‘good’ is could seem like purest evil to others.

For the purposes of the project, I’m going to have to make some judgment calls, but for the most part, I’ll try to include people as long as they sincerely believe that the work they’re doing constitutes a positive contribution to the world.

Some readers may disagree in some cases. In fact, I hope they do. Debate and discussion about this stuff would be really exciting, and could help illustrate a theory of mine: 

The meaning of ‘good’ is different for each of us, and we must each decide for ourselves what kind of ‘good’ work makes the most sense to us.

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