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Always good people are tiresome

To the editor:

I’ve been pondering Abraham Lincoln’s observation that people with few vices also had few virtues. It has been stated that people who are always good soon become tiresome. Might there be some vitality in “badness” that contributes to the sparkle of life?

To bring goodness into the world seems to be the highest value. If the cost of this is to become tiresome and dull, what remedy might there be? I doubt that the answer would mean that we become genuinely bad as in morally evil. To knowingly and willingly harm others cannot give us depth of character. If “always good” is tiresome, what do we do?

I asked a friend at work about this and he responded that people like this are tiresome because they never take risks. That sounds close to the mark. Risk means there is a possibility of negative consequences. Someone could get hurt if my endeavor fails or maybe even if it succeeds. So this “always good” person may refrain from risk to avoid any negative consequence. In so doing, he/she will live a life of only the actions that will garner approval from the widest audience. That is a very bland life by any measure.

By contrast, if I choose to live by my own personal conscience, I’m bound to have some people object. I become “bad” in this sense. I don’t fit the mold. People have wide ranges of moral and ethical conduct and dispute is part and parcel of the human framework. So this step away from “always good” doesn’t mean a step into “badness,” but a step into genuine selfhood. It means a daring to actually live out who I really am. In doing so, we awake from our lethargy and cease to be a tiresome bore to those around us.

Mark Weise Brandon, MN