That’s right, you heard me: I’m a bad person. I’ve done all the bad things. Cheating, littering, being a bitch, stealing flowers from people’s gardens, sometimes smoking cigarettes, chucking sickies. All of it! I’m bad baby.
That’s not to say I’m not working towards being a good person, I am. I don’t believe I’ll ever get there, because, between you and I, I don’t really believe in good and bad people. I believe that you and your character are in a constant state of flux. How many good things and how many bad things you do is completely up to you. At the very least, anyone who tells you that they are a good person is to be suspected, and at worst, to be avoided. It’s that sense of self-righteousness that is a glaring indicator of someone that thinks all the work is done; that they can brush off their hands, pat themselves on the back, and lean back into the armchair of smugness. Well, congratulations. I’m so glad you’ve finished living and have ascended to God-status, ready to pass judgement on the rest of us. That must be wonderful for you.
What I’ve never understood is the criteria for become aforementioned “good person”. Is it charity work? Is it loyal friendship, or paying your taxes, or terrific smartness? Is it buying great birthday presents, adopting stray animals, being nice to the cashier, or is it a combination of these things? In my mind, the only people that are sure of what constitutes goodness are fundamentalist lunatics and megalomaniacs, so let’s all back away from that idea slowly. The reality is that everyone has a different idea of what’s good and what’s bad, and if you’ve ever met another person and had any semblance of a conversation, you’ll know that almost no two people agree on everything. So, you think you’re good? I bet I can find someone that thinks you’re wrong.
The thing is, I kind of like being a bad person because the only way is up. The constant struggle to be better, the best version of myself, challenges me every single day. After all, it’s easy to be bad, it’s not so easy to be good.
You’ve heard people say “Oh, aren’t you good”. It’s often in relation to having gone to the gym, or had a salad for lunch, or doing a charity marathon where they raised $207.50 for fingernail cancer. Big whoop. You know what I think is good? Not wasting food. That’s a really, really hard thing to do (trust me, I’m terrible at it) and it’s not something that you can brag about on Facey. Food waste is really, really bad, so before you order than fourteenth coffee for the day or get take-away instead of eating what you’ve got in the fridge, stop and think about all the fuel, transport, greenhouse gasses and resources are associated with your caffeine fix or Pad See Ew (and the packaging that comes with it) and whether, perhaps, you can live without it.
And spare a thought for vegetarians and vegans, the good people that the world loves to hate. Even if you forget the animal cruelty factor, meat production causes more damage to the atmosphere than any other industry, including coal. By giving up meat, you are actually contributing to a better world, so give yourself a high five. Other things that give you good person points according to me – not buying fast fashion, not using single-use plastic, researching not-for-profits and giving them regular donations, not adversely affecting the safety or human rights of other people, animals, and the climate, not having too many children, not driving your car everywhere, not using palm oil products (God, they are everywhere!), adopting a pet and desexing it instead of buying from a breeder, etc etc. Interestingly, you’ll often meet “good people” of the Brunswick variety that will brag about their overseas travel and artisan wagyu hamburger in the same breath as they berate those who don’t ride their fixie around everywhere, but who are they to judge? That’s right folks, your glamorous international holidays are pretty bloody bad for the environment. Making conscious choices about how bad you’re going to be is a major part of being a good person.
I’m not trying to make you feel like shit, but let’s put things into perspective. Doing yoga, drinking green juices or wearing a bindi on your head do not make you a good person. Neither does telling other people you are good person – nothing can make you a good person on a permanent basis. You will do good things and you will do bad things, because you’re a boring old human and that’s what we do. What really counts as good is what you do selflessly, un-glamorously, in private. Resting on the laurels of goodness is a surefire way to be bad, and from one bad person to another – you don’t want to be that.