Sunday, December 16, 2007

You Can Feel Good About Good


Being a gringo in Costa Rica has certain labels to it that I didn't expect before I moved here. Being raised on enough MTV, Nikolodeon, and Disney to turn even the strongest mind to tapioca; I had assumed we as Americans were universally seen as the consummate "good guys". For some reason I thought that finding friends would be a snap and that everyone would understand my apple pie American English if I just spoke REALLY REALLY LOUD AND REALLY REALLY SLOWWW. Nope. I was pretty much wrong on all points and learned quickly that relying on US media outlets for inter cultural waypoints was like going to White Castle for health food. Wow. I miss White Castle... Moving on...

I quickly found out that in the case of my host country, there were some things my history textbooks never mentioned about Costa Rica. Like how we tried to invade and enslave them in the 1800's, giving rise to the Central American version of Braveheart being played out with us as the bad guys. Whoops. And then there's the whimsically evil escapades of the United Fruit Company who made Halliburton look like a non profit charity outfit.

So there was a little more of a deficit than I had previously thought as far as good will was concerned. Not that the typical Tico would bring it up unless in an argument anyway, these people are literally the most tranquilo on the planet. But living here there is a label that sticks to you no matter how you present or carry yourself. You are a North American, you are rich, and you're either here to make a buck or live your life on vacation. A pretty cruddy label to have especially if only the North American part is true. And my first few months here, I genuinely but ignorantly took the word "gringo" as a racial slur to the chagrin of my well meaning Tico friends.

But I have always been the kind of person that needs to know and feel that I am on the right side of the good-evil-indifferent equation. If life were D&D, I'd probably be a solid Neutral Good according to the little quiz. There are different times for law and chaos, but the spirit of good should remain constant. There have been times in my life where this view had led to some suffering on my part, but I also feel better about myself than some people.

Living here, I have seen the deepest depths of poverty carrying the widest smile on its face and the most opulent riches living without satisfaction. So in order to make sure I live within my own beliefs, I try to impact my new home with as much random goodness as I can. This could come in the form of leaving a bag of groceries on a doorstep in the middle of the night. Or it could come in the form of a quick translation for someone in a bank line. A family subsisting on only beans and rice waking up to an unexpected feast is the butterfly wing flap in Africa that creates the hurricane because you have reawakened the belief in miracles if it wasn't there already. Each of us would like to think that God has our backs, and when that belief becomes true faith we become more whole beings. We're inspired because we have been given proof that we are all more than what we appear to be.

Luminous beings are we....not this fleshy matter...
Yoda (67 Monterrey Pop Festival)

In either case, shifting your actions so that they reflect what is the highest good can erase old boundaries and labels and replace them with new appreciations. The most important thing to remember is to always opt for anonymity whenever possible. The good you are trying to spread should carry the same face as our Creator (whatever name your beliefs have given him/her/it/them), and shouldn't be to bring attention to the giver. That brings focus to the person and not the idea.

So my point in all of this is simply that the force of good is humanity's best asset. The intelligence and lucidity to see that Love is the driving force of all life is our birthright that I sincerely hope gets passed down to the next dominant species. And if history's cobwebs can be swept away, the only thing that can possibly do it is Love. So be random, be generous, and when possible be anonymous. If everyone did this, all of mankind would be back at the same dinner table. I just hope India doesn't hog all the biscuits again....

9 comments:

Em Dy said...

I agree with anonymitiy. The idea is to do good and not brag about it.

Merlyn Trey Hunter said...

That and when you are anonymous, you have given that person the opportunity to wonder. And within that nexus of curiosity, faith is often born. I am so glad this event was called!!

VIRGINIA BERGMAN vbergman422@comcast.net said...

Thank you for this post. It's though-provoking and inspiring.

Merlyn Trey Hunter said...

Thank you for the kind words, Virginia. This was definitely a labor of love. I had a chance to see your blog and I really enjoyed reading it.

Keep fighting the good fight!

homeschoolzoo said...

Touching post, and so true about remaining anonymous.

mickie said...

Great post. Great post. Did I mention this was a great post?

Doing good spreads hope & faith for the doer and the receiver.

Maybe there's hope for mankind after all.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. If it's so hard for some people to do good,then at least, don't do anything bad to others.

Anonymous said...

Astonishing style. I would love to write that way.

Leila said...

People prize America for the individualism and "Freedom." Well what you mentioned is the type of contradictory censorship going on. It's rather sad and (offensively) blatant (it's like they expect us to not see it).

I like this post, but having lived in the Philippines made a cynic out of me. The poor and rich alike are avaricious, and the children as well as the land in general are habitually maligned. I guess since you had the opposite transition, it was for the better, but having come from a 3rd world country to the US, I disdained the Philippines for having been the melting pot of grime and insidiousness. Even my relatives back there do nothing but beg us for our hard-earned money and for "iphones" and the like. I don't mind giving and helping them out, but it becomes another matter when you're not exactly well off either.