Being Good (Virtuous)

“Gary, you be good,” was my mother’s favorite comment when I went someplace away from home. Even when I had friends over to play games in our yard, she would repeat the comment, “You be good, now.”  I ask, “What must I do to be a good person?  “

Being good can be answered in terms of behavior. Indeed, we don’t know a person is “good” unless that person does good deeds!  Perhaps that is why many definitions of virtue include the idea of  “an inherent power.”

In the small community, I grew up in, I can name all of the families who lived on the street where I lived. Invariably, they were known as good people or “she is a virtuous woman” or “he is a virtuous man.”

Virtue is ideal.  No one is completely virtuous. Virtue (being good) is a quality we seek and pursue that requires discipline, focus, and an intent to achieve.  No one is born virtuous.  Virtue is acquired.

What made this small community virtuous?  Why was there harmony and safety among the families who lived there? We are compelled in pursuit of virtue to act in certain ways that are beneficial to others. Goodness ( virtue) can be defined in a number of ways.  But who is to say what is and is not “good” or virtuous?

In retrospect, I now know the answer to the definition of  — good and virtuous.  There were two small churches in the community, and 90 percent of the population attended one of these churches. Sunday was a Holy day; first of all, the commercial establishments remained closed and free of commerce— i.e., a day of rest.  Secondly, Sunday morning saw overwhelming community residents in one of the two churches.

In these churches, virtue and goodness were defined by criteria set forth in the Holy Bible.  It is here in the Holy Scripture we learn we are not born ‘good’ but with evil intent in our hearts.  (wow !!) (Genesis 8:21).  l,  as a young fellow, I  heard numerous  ‘sermons’ that reinforced that I would become ‘good’ when Christ dwells in my heart.  Then and only then would my heart be strengthened with moral goodness and virtue in my deeds.  The statement made from the pulpit, “You must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then, and only then, would you be established with a heart of virtue and goodness.”

It is the Bible that gives us the definition of ‘goodness.’  Once you have the indwelling of the  Holy Spirit (my home church used the term “being Saved, or turning your life over to God), and the Holy Spirit is in charge of your life, your life will produce peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Therefore, I summarize that goodness is not a quality but an action.  This goodness can be seen in a person who shows love through interactions with others. Virtue manifests itself in calmness and even temperament.    Inherent in these behaviors are praise and the voicing of words of encouragement to others.








Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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