Good Will

“A trespass-offering mocketh fools; But among the upright there is good will.” – Proverbs 14:9 – Bible, American Standard Version.

“The kingdom on that day shall be Allah’s; He will judge between them; so those who believe and do good will be in gardens of bliss.” – Al-Hajj 22:56, Qu’ran, Muhammad Habib Shakir translation.

“The proper disposition of man toward his neighbor is an unreserved good will. The ethical tractate Abot reiterates this demand repeatedly. Matthew ben Heresh taught: “Be the first to offer cordial greetings to every man.” Shammai was the author of a similar maxim: “Receive every person with a glad disposition.” Ben Zoma was wont to say: “Who is deserving of honor? He who honors other people.” Rabbi Eliezer urged: “Let the honor of your friend be as dear to thee as thine own.” Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa declared: “He who pleases the spirit of man, will also please the spirit of God; and he who does not please the spirit of his fellowman, will not please the spirit of God either.”  – The Wisdom of the Talmud: Personal Morality – Ben Zion Bosker, [1951] at sacred-texts.com

“Let him be able, and upright and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and not proud,
Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
His faculties serene, prudent, and modest,
Unswayed by the emotions of the clans;
And let him never do the slightest thing
That other wise men might hold blamable.”
The Buddha’s Discourse on Loving Kindness/Good Will – Khuddaka Nikaya; Sutta Nipata (Sn) 1.8

 “‘Om bahubhyam yasho balam’ i.e. ‘God!  May I create goodwill and strength through my arms!’ Where you are sensitive and think, you do not indulge in atrocities through strength of arms.  You serve.  You do good deeds.  You defend justice.  There is goodwill in it.  It is non-violence.” Message of the Vedas, B.B. Paliwal.

“I counsel thee, Stray-Singer, accept my counsels,
they will be thy boon if thou obey’st them,
they will work thy weal if thou win’st them:
never in speech with a foolish knave
shouldst thou waste a single word.

From the lips of such thou needst not look
for reward of thine own good will;
but a righteous man by praise will render thee
firm in favour and love.” – Hávamál, The Counseling of the Stray-Singer, verses 121-122.

To write this post, I went a-looking for quotes that would fit in order to prove a point that the Abrahamic faiths shouldn’t (and don’t) have the concept of good will cornered.  As a former Christian, I knew that there were lovely examples from the Bible, and figured that the Qur’an and Talmud would both contain similar mentions.  When I went looking beyond the texts of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, however, I found mention of good will in a Discourse from the Buddha, a book commenting on the Vedas, and within the Hávamál.  Now, I’ll admit that I stopped my search at this point – if you, dear reader, know of mentions from other texts I’ve missed, I’d be thrilled if you shared them here.

Of all the references I found, I like the one from The Wisdom of the Talmud best; it actually gives good examples of what good will is and how to go about living it.  As someone who practices religion in an action-centered way, this is important to me – I want to know how to apply larger concepts to my daily life.  Hell, I did an entire workshop on the idea that religion does not have to be separate from daily life…and so, when examining good will it doesn’t matter how many mentions and platitudes there are, really (although perhaps my plethora of mentions at the top of this post belies that statement!)  What matters (to me) is being able to translate the meaning into something I can do.

To me, good will involves a lot of different little bits and pieces that basically translate, as a whole, to Wheaton’s Law, but involve action rather than sitting back and doing nothing.  It’s easy not to be a dick if all you do is sit back and allow the world to go on without you, but it is quite another thing to involve yourself in what goes on, work for justice, stand up for the rights of others, and ensure they get respect while simultaneously ensuring that your actions are also respectful of those who (actively or passively) are working against you.  It means doing what is just, and what is right, and dodging the slings and arrows in a way that appears effortless.  It means standing up and not being a doormat, but addressing those who would treat you as such in a respectful way.  It means treating others how you wish to be treated and not, as is so often seen, doing unto others before they see you coming.

(I need to work on that last bit.  Seriously.  For all that I try, I don’t not consider myself a naturally good person.)

My mother, for all that we don’t see eye-to-eye on religious things (and political things, and family things), has good will down pat.  She’s a board-certified behavior analyst, and oversees the support of children who are on the Autism spectrum.  In doing so, she has to do what is best for the child while not ticking off the parent(s), which is slightly more difficult than it sounds.  Time and again she manages to straddle the line and not offend a parent (despite the horrible things they say to her) so a child can get the best services to help them operate in a society that respects conformity more than individuality.  At the moment, for example, she is managing to work around the bigotry of a parent (albeit with many telephone conversations with me where she rails against the idiocy of the woman) in order to assign support staff that will best meet the needs of the child.  She’s found polite and truthful ways to overcome every objection the parent has brought up and, since the parent will not admit her bigotry, it means the child is able to benefit from working with someone who really gets him.

I will admit that I have trouble with expressing respect for my fellow humans (especially when they don’t agree with me), and you’ve seen that in other posts I’ve written.  It is something I’m striving for, however – to me, respect of others by praxis hits ma’at and my Bright Flame at the same time and these are things I need to be doing.  I need to be able to move forward while remembering to acknowledge the humanity of others and dealing out respect even when they fail to live up to whatever standards I’ve set for them based on the box I’ve put them in…and that means actually practicing good will.

(Looks like I’ve just given myself more religious work to do.  Fuckmonkeys.)

Peace on Earth.  Good will toward (hu)man(s).

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One response to “Good Will

  1. Pingback: Good Will | TC Test Site

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