I wasn’t raised to be a particularly good person. I was raised to be fine, I guess; I was polite, I minded my own business, I kept out of trouble. Even if the trouble was where the virtue was at. And especially if the trouble was actually just getting caught. But the focus was more on looking after oneself than anyone else, and I grew up believing essentially that I was living in a relatively unsafe and scarce world, where a step out of bounds to aid another was probably a risk not worth taking if you didn’t really have to.
I didn’t give it much thought. We don’t normally give our childhood programming much thought.
An example of a really mundane, vaguely lazy, vaguely selfish, fine-I-guess thing I never questioned was when I collected a shopping trolley and it had rubbish in – receipts, empty bags, wrappers, whatever. It was a very routine occurrence, and I would very routinely transfer the debris from my trolley to the next trolley and move on.
Then one day I went shopping with my boyfriend of the time, at the age of 26, and he watched me do this and said why wouldn’t you just put it in the bin? And I didn’t know. I just thought that’s what you did. And I think it is, largely, what you do, if you’re a fine-I-guess sort of person, which I think most of us are. Hence the receipts and wrappers and bags being there in the first place. But I’d never thought about it.
I have spent quite a lot of time, by this point, studying good people, and the decisions they make. I’ve learned a lot about being better than fine, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. A good deed actually requires me to override my programming most of the time, and that’s if I even notice the opportunity. I probably still miss a lot.
Wouldn’t it be nicer if being good was just instinctive? If that’s just what i thought living was?
I bought my son some litter picking gloves. He was very excited. I think we’ll make it a thing.