Goodness is the only true symbol of the superiority of the human being; yet, if it is not accompanied by actions, it is useless. We all know the typical people who talk a lot and do little, who are filled with noble words and selfish actions. If we want to start changing the world, however, it is necessary to translate the true nobility of our heart into action.
This principle, which at first glance might seem obvious, contains in itself an evident fact: there are many who practice a type of immobility for which it is enough to consider themselves “good people” to feel satisfied with themselves. In reality, however, these people are unable to see the needs of those around them, concrete situations that require the kind of elementary empathy that we do not see around us as much as we would like.
Someone once said that to eliminate all forms of evil it would be enough for good people to act, for them to do something. Goodness is not an abstract entity, it is not a concentrated juice to drink to make our heart more noble and that leads us to make a donation to an NGO, and it is not even a label to flaunt in front of others.
Goodness is not chosen, it is felt. And it requires us to act, to give answers, to assist and protect, even when everyone else around us does not understand or criticize us. Goodness, therefore, is a real heroic undertaking.
Today we want to invite you to reflect on this topic.
Good people are made of a different substance
We are aware that this topic could raise differing opinions. First of all, many will wonder what we mean by “good people”, what makes them different from others and why they are said to be anonymous and silent heroes that nobody ever talks about.
Well, it needs to be made clear that when we say there are “good” people, it does not mean that everyone else is “bad”. We are not establishing any dichotomy.
Goodness is, first of all, the absence of self-centeredness. If we isolate this variable in our equation, we will obtain a behavioral profile inhabited by dimensions such as empathy, compassion and altruism. An extraordinary trait of these personalities is the fact that they appear to be made of an invisible material. But just dig beyond the first layer of their skin to find that, deep down, they shine: they are people who put the needs of others before their own.
This is a feature we don’t see very often. Not all of us prioritize our fellow men to the point of relativizing our needs, and not doing it or not feeling it, doesn’t make us bad people. Simply, that kind of selfless sacrifice or will is alien to us and even seems contradictory to us. Perhaps this is why we do not understand why many cooperators risk their lives to help distant and unknown people.
In fact, sometimes, we don’t even understand that friend or neighbor, that brother or work colleague who goes out of his way for colleagues or neighbors, without expecting anything in return. Goodness, like other motivations, is not always understood, and it is precisely because of this misunderstanding that it rarely gets the recognition it deserves.
When goodness is practiced, something changes in the brain
To put goodness into practice, there is no need to give all of our goods to others. Nor is it necessary to travel to India or Tibet, nor to take part in distant wars to help those who are oppressed or in need. True goodness begins to be put into practice in our daily environments, in those small situations that occur every day under our eyes and that, often, we do not see.
No act of kindness, however small, will ever be a waste of time. Indeed, it will be enough to take a first step and act so that, little by little, small, but great, changes occur in the brain. It shouldn’t surprise you, in fact, to discover that acts of generosity or altruism activate the same neuronal mechanisms in our brains as empathy.
When we do something important for another person, a rush of endorphins is released in our brain which, in a sense, reinforce the social behavior that gives dignity to our species. The main priority of the human being is to guarantee his survival and for this reason goodness accompanied by action, and not only as an aspiration, guarantees this fundamental principle.
On the other hand, we should never neglect passing on this type of approach to life to our children. Jerome Kagan, a Harvard University psychologist, has shown in his studies that children are able to make positive connections with the people around them. Emotional caresses promote and enhance the maturation of the infant brain in a simply wonderful way.
Thus, if we sow in them the value of empathy, respect and altruism, the whole society will gain. In the age of modernity and technology, it is a great challenge and a responsibility that we all have to take part in. Because if our species has managed to evolve to give shape to what we call “humanity”, we just have to take a further step to create a real common consciousness, a reality based on mutual respect, compassion and the value of other as part of ourselves.