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).