Human goodness

Time and again I am moved by the sheer goodness of those who practise no religion yet whose lives are like lanterns illuminating the surrounding darkness. Perhaps the most vivid example of such goodness is that of the fire-fighters who raced into the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11, at risk to their own lives, unconcerned with self, not seeking any fame or reward.

Mathew Parris, writing in The Times, recently commented on how ‘from time to time one meets people from whom goodness simply leaps. These people have something extra-ordinary. Could it be God? I ask myself. Is God the explanation of human goodness?’ The answer strikes him with absolute clarity.  ‘There is no need,’ he concludes, ‘to explain human goodness. It exists. It is a positive fact. It can be seen and not only in the devout. Goodness is human, not divine.’

That such goodness is endemic in human nature was acknowledged by Pope John Paul II in his Lenten message for 2003 in which he said, ‘The inclination to give is rooted in the depths of the human heart: every person is conscious of a desire to interact with others and everyone finds fulfilment in a free gift of self to others.’


8 thoughts on “Human goodness”

  1. How rewarding to be reminded of this in these terrible times when some people are yet giving of themselves so amazingly.
    Thank you, Jimmie!
    Margo x o

  2. I’m nodding, James. A YES to hope! This covid period is revealing so many eye opening truths and we surely have to respond to them all. There will, I truly hope, be blessings for the future, if we can let go of all sorts of stuff we have thought necessary to the faith traditions, that we follow. Thank you James.
    Love Diana

  3. Oh Dear James, I’ve just re read the comment I have left and realise it sounds as if I want to throw faith out of the window – I simply believe we need to accept there are blessings in new ways of looking, see the eye opening goodness and generosity of spirit that is out there and at how myopic our vision can become, especially when fearful of change.

  4. Of course. We can observe it among many in the animal kingdom too. Watch the empathy, support and care in a herd of elephants. Watch their grief when one dies.

  5. Jimmy, after months of sequestering for the safety of others, my friends and church members have begun to suffer. Not for dining out, or Entertainment, but because of how difficult it has become to help others. Causing pain and anxiety. Reading with Children Feeding the Hungry. That helplessness feeling, and seeing so much hurt in such bold relief systemic inequities that destroy. Many years from Elder and Elon. And you are still teaching and inspiring me. Cathie Albair

  6. Dear James, Here in India we are seeing so much suffering among the poor that my dominant feeling is guilt that I have given so little to them, and I don’t mean just financially over the years I have lived here. But there is a lot of gooidness and you are right I mst look for that.
    Mark Tully.

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