Every now and then, the concept of good, is nevertheless upheld as a moral virtue. That is, it is worthy of pursuit, it is is worthy of praise, and it is worthy embodiment.
Ancient to modern philosophers debate about its nature. And theologians debate about its source. But just for the sake of going further, even politicians promise about its application. While the oppressed cry out because of its privation.
Although the term itself can be used loosely (e.g., to embody multiple instances of an act, perhaps, in varying circumstances; or as a yardstick to categorize isolated acts with some degree of goodness in it), it nevertheless diminishes the fact that the good is a virtue where those who categorize themselves as religious or irreligious agree by conscious or subconscious pursuit – whether by means or as an end in itself, or maybe in an overlap.
But what if in the pursuit of the good, we missed the mark?
Well, we already missed the mark!
Christians call this one sin. Liberals call this one weakness. Karl Marx called this one alienation from oneself, to be precise from one true self. And to be early, even the ancient philosophers (e.g., Pythagoreans and Plato) admit that man has a problem in nature. All these prove is that a mark was missed. Why? Because they are all proposing solutions or resolutions.
In addressing the perceived problem…
Marx proposed socialism. He proposed that the totality of the problem of man is rooted in his social relations. Hence, to diagnose the problem of the individual is to change the society – from the whole to the parts. Although it sounds promising in the first buzz, yet his philosophy was actually bankrupt – not only in theory, but also in practice. Because the one who is responsible for the goal of societal change is man himself – an alienated being.
While Marx tried to solve the problem, the Pythagoreans and Plato resorted into idealism, if not, then a sort of, claiming that reality is just in the mind, and the sensory experience as only secondary, if not unimportant. While their proposals may attempt to give us a description of the condition of man, still it also missed the mark. For not only it defies experience, but it also treats experience as unreal – even if the hurt in the world is real. Just as the story of a prisoner from Cuba jail, who confessed how he kept motivated:
The worst part was the monotony. I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I ‘saw’ in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door (quoted in Yancey, Grace Notes, 248).
But that attitude doesn’t diagnose the problem. It only gives us faulty lenses to see away the problem, instead of solving it. James Schall made it clear:
Our youth today are almost invariably taught they must change the world, not their souls. So they change the world, and it becomes worse (Crisis, 57; emphasis mine).
It is because the problem is with our soul. And our soul needs to be forgiven and redeemed. That even the secular humanist and novelist Margarita Laski, confessed to a television interviewer:
What I envy the most about you Christians is your forgiveness. I have nobody to forgive me.
But if the resurrection of Jesus is true, then it’s a different story of a diagnosis – there is hope. As the apostle Paul exclaimed to the Corinthians, a jacked-up church:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Cor. 15:17, NIV; emphasis mine).
But since he did rise, so forgiveness is now made available:
But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:37-38, NIV; emphasis mine).
So I wonder what does this do to me.
But the fact that Jesus died but did not remain dead, guarantees me that there’s a recompensation for all my hypocrisy, misgivings, and shortcomings. And that there will be a time where “everything sad will become untrue.” If not in this lifetime, then it will be in the next.