Am I a Bad Person?

I love to take personality quizzes (more on this in a future blog post).

I’m obsessed with Myers-Briggs, and truly have a carnival-like ability to guess anyone’s personality type and be correct. I once guessed my waiter’s personality type - before dessert was served - and hit it on the nose.

I love these types of quizzes because they talk about who we are, and why, and give you a beautiful mix of introspection as well as hopeful optimism as you take them. With each question, you get to ask yourself “who am I really?” as well as “who would I like to be?”.

There was a quiz the other day that said “Are you a good person, or a bad person?” and damn it all to hell, you answered via a sliding scale. No ‘true’ or ‘false’. A scale.

So it made me think.

I always think, ultimately, that no one is all good, and no one is all bad. There’s a quote I love that says

If you judge, you will never understand. If you understand, you will never judge.

Every action someone takes is made for a reason. Maybe we do something bad, because we don’t know it’s bad. Maybe we do something bad, because it’s the lesser of two evils. Maybe we do something bad to cover up, to protect, to try and help in a twisted way, or simply because we don’t think we’ll be found out.

To put it this way, even Hitler in his fucked up mind thought he was doing good for Germany with the Holocaust.

Only a small percentage of us do bad things to hurt, or cause pain, or fuck things up. And that small percentage is all psychopaths. Even sociopaths don’t purposely act with malice.

To sum it up with a Game of Thrones reference (my favorite type of reference):

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What I’m trying to say, is that aside from the times I do shrooms or MDMA, I always see the world in grey. I don’t like to think in black and white, in fact I actively find it dangerous to think that way.

So, since I think in grey, I should like the sliding scale, right?

This is the one case where I don’t.

I always joke with my best friend Bridget that we’re going to hell, and then she points out the volunteer work I do in Tanzania, and then we spend some time wondering if this is enough to delay our inevitable placement down under. Sometimes I steal underwear from Victoria’s Secret, and then go home and donate online to PETA. I feel like subconsciously (and maybe this is leftover from my time spent in CCD) I’m always trying to get away with doing the evil things I lust and crave for by following them up with enough nice deeds to keep me on the “good” side.

It’s pretty similar to that scene about The Point System in The Good Place

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How many points am I set back by stealing underwear? And how many points set me forward from my PETA subscription?

Furthermore, if I did something bad, but I didn’t know I was doing something bad, does that still count against me? Some terrorists believe they’re doing God’s work. What if I made a decision that I thought was good, but I only thought that way because I was told incorrect information?

There’s a lot to think on in this topic. Honestly, it’s enough to make me want a list of things that are absolutely “good” and “bad”, and I could just follow that list if I want the rest of my life to be by-the-books “good”.

But I already tried religion, and it hasn’t stuck.

There’s another Game of Thrones quote that reminds me of this.

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As Jaime ponders in the show, “Defend the king, obey the king, obey your father, protect the innocent, defend the weak. But what if your father despises the king? What if the king massacres the innocent?”

Sometimes it’s impossible to follow two rules, so you have to break one. For example, you want to love and respect your boyfriend, but you also have to obey your parents. But what if your parents don’t want you dating your boyfriend? You’re doing something ‘bad’ to either party no matter what you choose.

Lastly, there are different rules to define what is “right”. Is what society tells you to do right? Is the law of the country right? Or is something “right” if it’s what you believe? Maybe a law tells me to not do something - but in my heart of hearts I know this is the right decision. And yes, I may or may not be referring to me stealing underwear from Victoria’s Secret.

So I sat there, staring at the quiz. That damn sliding scale. Where the fuck do I fall on it?

I have been a horrible presence in some people’s lives, and yet in others, I have completely changed their life for the better. I have been both the villain, and the hero. I have been both a main character, and someone incredibly inconsequential. So who am I, really?

I ended up lying, sliding the scale to the furthest tier of “good”, and was then rewarded with my quiz result.

I am a Salt & Vinegar chip.
Yes, it was a Buzzfeed quiz.

But I’m now going through my days, and I still haven’t found the answer to this. My closest guess, is that being “good” is to be good by your own values. To do what you believe is correct. I think that gives you the least amount of internal strife.

And if someone lies to you, or gives you misinformation, and that in turn forces you to unknowingly do something “bad”? Well, you can always donate to PETA. And if that isn’t enough, Google the nearest soup kitchen.

Making an online contribution,
S


Shannon McNamaraComment