This is Gord Tulloch's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?
Being A ‘Good’ Person
Throughout my life I have wanted to be a good person. I have spent a lot of time trying to get a handle on what “being good” means, what it requires of me. But there are so many frameworks and meta-frameworks and they are often incommensurate if not outright contradictory. It can leave one gasping for clarity, especially when decisions are urgent.
One of the views I am inclined towards places the emphasis on character rather than action, such that the question is less about whether an action is right or wrong and more about what sort of person I am being or becoming in performing it. But even this is not entirely satisfactory. And although I can’t precisely name what it means to be good, I know that I am not there yet. And I stumble even when the path seems clear. But I am trying. One would think it should get easier, but it doesn’t. There are always choices to be made.
Sartre said that while we live, we are a radical freedom without essence. We create our essence through our actions and it is only when we are dead that our essence solidifies: we become the sum of our deeds. I don’t entirely agree with this either, but I do agree that there is something about being-in-action that is important. We are not just airy thoughts and intentions. What we do counts. The footprint we leave in the world requires movement, and when we are no more it will be the last vestige of self. Both self and the world are formed from our choices. It is a sobering proposition.
So what am I skating towards? Towards what I have always wanted, towards being a good person. But I am doing it on a frictionless surface where it is sometimes hard to find traction. Where there is a lot of slipping and slippage. Where it is usually easier to crawl than to glide. But where there is always a horizon of hope and the tracks of others to show me the way. This is my fervent hope. My prayer. My project.
Gord Tulloch has been working in post-secondary education and the social services sector for twenty years. He is interested in social innovation, ideas, and organizational leadership.
Note: I release individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012? on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Jacques Dufresne, Lindsay Cant, Richard Bridge, Stefan Lorimer and many others. You can access the accumulated essays here.