Good and Bad, when did it all get so ugly?
There is so much noise on the internet about right and wrong. If the decade had a new currency it would be moral dollars, which are worth far more than money, yet also utterly useless in a rental/bills/car payment kind of situation. Being perceived as good has never been so badly wanted by so many.
Looking back to my childhood - as I often do in these situations - good and bad was far more easily defined. It was black and white, with a finite nature that doesn’t exist anymore. Good and bad don’t mean the same thing and they no longer mean the same thing to individuals.
When did it become so hard to work out if we are good or bad?
The oxford dictionary definition of good is EXTENSIVE, but I have pulled out some key parts;
“To be desired or approved of. Having the required qualities; of a high standard. Possessing or displaying moral virtue, obedient to rules or conventions”
No surprises there, but one thing that does ooze from that definition, is the constriction that goodness creates. I do believe rules and guidelines are good to follow, but pure goodness does seem to prevent certain parts of fun in our lives.
However, the current climate of good v bad, us v them, the right and the wrong, does make for an existence that feels like a constant paradox. The issue belongs in the fact that there are so many areas that one must be good at/in.
Take a look at your Instagram, and you will find posts about allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community, racism, veganism, ableism towards the disabled community, climate change issues, how to behave on social media, comparison, and the list goes on.
The issues of the age are countless, and what might have started with good intentions now feels overwhelming and constricting. From within the change-making industry, I can see audiences fatigued and overwhelmed, not knowing what they should and shouldn’t be doing as ‘good’ people.
There is also a perceptible shift, people are very much over being told that they’re doing things wrong, that their actions are bad - this combination is going against change, and is causing stagnation across many issues.
We’re at a cultural and emotional impasse. So where do we go next?
Well, we need to shift our focus from the idea that pure critique of actions will create changed behaviour. Critique is good, it highlights flawed thinking and actions. This alone does not create change, it creates hostility and apathy towards change. However, I am not saying we should just stop highlighting issues, far from it!
Instead, I am suggesting that with every critique of behaviour, we - as change-makers - offer an action out of this behaviour. Providing a path of change will create a difference, that feels attainable and less hostile. We all need to be uncomfortable at some point, discomfort creates change after all. Yet all of us deserve to have comfort, thus there is a fine line of how we make people feel!
I also think we all need to look internally! Are we being fully equitable in our actions? Change making like many other industries feels elite, and instead, it should be open and accessible. Change is for all of us, and it's our job to keep it that way! We need to ensure we are not excluding people from key conversations and providing options in actions that fit a variety of lifestyles.
There is a lot to do, but if we do it together, we can achieve so much - and that makes it all worth it...
Shot by Rachel Pechey