Monday, October 23, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Good"

I remember when I was about eight to ten years old, I became annoyed at something my grandmother said to me. I can't remember what it was, although I can vividly picture the location of our disagreement, on the path outside our house. I burst out with my opinion, and she looked at me, stuck for words for a brief moment, then she said "Oh, you're not a good girl, are you?", then walked off home, a block away from our house.

I remember it so vividly because it was unusual. Because of course, I normally was a good girl, that is, someone who didn't make waves, who aimed to please. And I remember it because I didn't feel in the least guilty. I felt the moral satisfaction that comes from serving a higher purpose than politeness, that is, to speak the truth. No doubt now I would find a kinder way to express myself. But once in a while we need to know how to burst out with the truth - something I am still learning, as I still prefer to fit in, to not upset people, to not disturb the peace.

There is a big difference between being a "good girl" and being a force for good in the world. "Good girls" I suspect, don't often do anything of real value. To be a good girl, you learn to be passive. But to be a force for good in the world, you have to do something with passion. Passion and passivity may come from the same Latin root word (I must look that up and check), but they are directly opposite. Good girls learn only to suppress any passion they may have. Good girls grow up to rebel against being good. But sadly, they still don't often become forces for good in the world. Good girls who kick over the traces learn to have "fun" - to enjoy sex, to party, to drink, to kick up their heels. Some of these things are worthwhile and joyful, if not overdone. But they are basically selfish - not things that make a lasting difference to the world. We need more girls (and boys) who are not taught to be good. We need to teach two things: first, follow your passion. And secondly, put yourself in someone else's shoes. It is those people who follow a passion, and who empathize with the needs of others, who really make a difference in the world.

My mother never told me to be a "good girl". Sadly, I somehow learnt that all by myself. Now, I just need to relearn what I knew in that moment in childhood: how to discern when it is better to tell the truth than to be a "good girl". And then, how to find and follow a passion.

More Sunday Scribblings here.

(I have had a busy weekend. It looks as if this will be posted on Monday, though I started it on Sunday. At least it is still Sunday in the rest of the world).

14 comments:

Becca said...

"We need more girls (and boys) who are not taught to be good. We need to teach two things: first, follow your passion. And secondly, put yourself in someone else's shoes."

I wholeheartedly agree with this philospohy :) Well said, and well written!

Remiman said...

Catherine,
This is good..flows from a good heart.
"Now, I just need to relearn what I knew in that moment in childhood: how to discern when it is better to tell the truth than to be a "good girl". "
I think you already know. ;-)
rel

paris parfait said...

Excellent points! My sentiments, exactly.

chiefbiscuit said...

Really really GOOD. I agree with what you say wholeheartedly. You have put it so clearly and reasonably - in your usual fashion.
I laughed at the picture I got of you and your grandmother and her stalking off - you really pissed her off didn't you? You must've hit a sore point (the truth?)You were no doubt right on the button otherwise she wouldn't've resorted to personal attack ;) At the time it was probably a turning point in your life and must've made you feel so good!!! :)

Deb R said...

Not just a good post, Catherine, an excellent one! :-)

srp said...

Yes, it is important to express the truth to make a difference in the world. However, it is even more important to make sure that it is the TRUTH we express and not just opinion. These are not always one and the same. Usually if we express real TRUTH, we really can be "good girls", the valuable type.

Here from Michele.

Pearl said...

What an interesting meditation. I really should come by more often.

My mom did teach me to a good girl and working for good is my refined aim. :)

Michele sent me.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree with you...Being a "good girl" and doing good works are two very different things...Follow your passion and putting yourself in someone else's shoes are two of the most important things one can learn about being good, in this life...And I further agree that doing these two things will absolutely lead you to doing good works.

che said...

For sure , you would tell your daughter to be ' a good girl ' too . won't you ?

the cycle continues ...

che said...

For sure , you would tell your daughter to be ' a good girl ' too . won't you ?

the cycle continues ...

Leah said...

A good perspective you scribbled this Sunday.

And with that note, I therefore conclude, I am a good girl.

JavaCurls said...

Very inspiring post!! Being a force of good rather than a "good girl"... I love it!!

DJPare said...

Nice post. You obviously have a passion for writing, so maybe you're not a good girl anymore... :)

yak attack said...

Yes, find your passion, and follow it! Well written!!!