What Makes A Good Human?: An Introduction

If you read the title you are probably wondering, who am I to write prologues, or preludes, or introductions?  What’s all this about?  Your blogs are only marginally interesting to begin with, why should I read anything doesn’t really tell me anything?  All fair questions, and the best answer I can come up with is that, good things come to those who wait.  Of course it’s also true that sometimes good things come to people in an instant, but this is not one of those occasions.

A fellow blogger I met when I first started my blog asked me what I was my goal in having a blog, because clearly it’s not all for yourself or you wouldn’t be putting your writing on the internet.  I knew the answer at the time, but was modest about saying it aloud, and I guess I still am, but ultimately I do want to inspire people.  Inspiration is an interesting topic in itself, something worth having a blog post about someday, but the truth is I don’t know that anybody could say how to inspire others.  It’s something you can’t really predict.  Sure there are ways you can communicate more effectively, more enthusiastically.  Inspiring someone through written word I think is more difficult than face to face, and I am not sure that my writing is that good yet.  But I believe inspiration comes also through expressing ideas and asking questions and that is the route I have taken.  Given the number of followers I have that read my blog I can tell that my writing is limited in how it has impacted others, and that’s okay.  Ultimately some of the blogs I enjoy following the most are ones that have a nice sense of community, and it would be nice to get to that point and just have a handful of people that regularly comment and read my blogs who have interesting things to say and interesting and well thought out points of view.  I think I’m moving closer to that as I have met some wonderfully intelligent and thoughtful bloggers over the past couple of years.  But that doesn’t mean that the blog  isn’t also for me.  It is also where I can explore, where I can get my thoughts out and help me sort out things in my own mind.  So while I hope the things I write mean something to others, I am also happy in the way that it helps me grow and learn.

My next series of blogs, which this is an introduction for, are what I consider to be the essential qualities of a good human.  These qualities that I am going to write about represent a culmination of years of thought on the matter.  So while it might seem overly bold, and though there may be disagreements, these are not qualities I have arrived at quickly or arbitrarily.  I make no claims that such a list may not change as I continue to learn and grow, and I have also, through careful thought, tried to condense it to as small a list as possible.  Not because that is necessarily important, but because over the course of my life I have come to see connections between certain qualities and realized that perhaps such qualities might exist under a much larger umbrella.  These qualities have been alluded to in my writing before and blogging thus far has helped crystallize ideas in my mind.   I also don’t make the claim either that these are overly original either, but I hope to make people think about these qualities in a slightly different way, specifically to try to broaden one’s views of this quality as very often people have a very narrow definition.

I like to have pictures in my blog posts, but really couldn’t think of any. I’m Canadian though and there will be 7 qualities. Boom.

One of my first posts when I started my blog discussed the dangers of categorization.  We are species who constantly makes poor correlations as a result of our tendency to make Type I errors, which is to find patterns and connections where none exist.  As I have also written before I grew up in two cultures being biracial and this helped me see from an early age that the innate goodness of a human being had little to do with religion or culture and yet these are characteristics that we seem to tie to goodness or badness most often.  And of course as I grew older I have seen even more judgments of character based on gender, class, job, education, etc.  It might be natural that we make these poor assumptions simply because we are bound to make determinations about a person’s quality based on the people we know throughout our lifetimes.  I have often observed that most prejudice of any kind comes from a lack of exposure to diversity, not because of it.   If I were to say something positive about myself, it’s that I do always try to look for the goodness in all people. As a result I have never shied away from getting to know somebody from a different walk of life because it seems the more people I get to know, the more I am convinced that they way we separate ourselves from others is false and ultimately harmful.  In that vein I have thought a lot about what are the qualities that good people have in all those different walks of life I have encountered.  This, in addition to what I’ve learned through my education has led to me to conclude that there are 7 things that we must all have.  The fact that 7 became the number has me already a little worried that I’m not right, because the number 7 is full of romance, but try as I might I couldn’t think of any more or any less, so I’m just going to go with it.

Finally I just want to emphasize that all these qualities I will blog about over the coming months are equally important.  So much so that missing even one of these qualities can be problematic.  While the degree to which each of us has these qualities may depend on the individual I believe that all are qualities we must demonstrate and develop every day.  There were times that I thought there was a ranking to these qualities, but now I am not so sure.   Anyway, enough of this introductory business.  I shall end this by thanking you for reading this and my blog and hope to hear your thoughts in the coming months as I complete this series of posts.

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22 thoughts on “What Makes A Good Human?: An Introduction

  1. Richard D

    Time to bookmark your blog and start reading (and commenting) regularly. I have a few blogs which I follow more or less closely, and I’ve realized that my favourites are those with a robust community. Not necessarily a large community, mind you, but one with people who care about each other and the subject matter, and enjoy frank yet respectful discussions. Each time I’ve popped in to check out one of your entries, Swarn, I have enjoyed your writing and refreshing viewpoints. it’s almost like we grew up in similar circumstances or something… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Richard D

      Oh, and I had intended to say that I look forward to this series. I will turn checking for new entries into a habit. A highly effective one, if you will.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much for this comment Richard. It made my day, because sometimes I do wonder who my words reach and so it’s nice to get some feedback! I agree with your viewpoints regarding positive blogging communities and would be thrilled to be in the same one as you! I look forward to your future thoughts and comments!

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  2. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts! Like you- I started the blog for me (to gather thoughts) but in an atmosphere I felt comfortable because the people I “see” on this blog I do not have to actually face every day. So whatever I say can’t make me feel awkward because I don’t have to face the people that read the deeper parts and hidden parts of me. Yet we all seek to share and connect- but in “real life” there is so much judgment and life tends to be a game and a rat race- and whatever you say you know could can or will be held against you in a negative way 😔 Maybe we will evolve past “Type 1” people as you say- and rise above categorizing- so we may truly be a better more peaceful species 😇😎

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    1. Thank you for your comment, and agreed! I know many people who have used blogging and the internet to find the type of community they cannot find in their day to day life around them. It’s unfortunate, because while I feel face-to-face interaction is more rewarding there is also no value in having superficial relationships either. A forum where you can be yourself is not only enjoyable but emotionally healthy so I’m glad you have found a space that allows you to freely express your thoughts. 🙂

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      1. Yes face to face would be ideal- but unfortunately I live in the “Bible belt” of the US and it’s few and far between to find like minded souls…so thankfully the Internet enables me to fulfill my desire for connection just enough to not go too stir crazy 😜 lol

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      1. Well, I am expecting an economic collapse, although I couldn’t guess how soon. With the US debt exceeding $18T it seems inevitable at some point that someone’s going to stop loaning them money. What happens after that would have to be unpleasant.

        Buying seed might be a good idea. At $1500/oz I haven’t been able to enact my buy gold programme. I’d stay away from Monsanto and buy corn. When the collapse comes the subsidies will disappear and you’ll get a double boost!

        I wouldn’t bother with composting. That will just take up space you could use for storing your seed, unless you plan on growing your own, which would be foolish. Everyone knows that it’s much more profitable to trade food than to actually grow it.

        If you ever decide to write a post about economic policy, it turns out I have some opinions; but, looking forward to finding out what makes a good human. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Swarn, I am looking forward to this/your series! Emphasizing, a bit more, a person’s qualities over their shortcomings, is a trait I have as well. It does indeed have its own faults — I can sometimes be taken advantage of — however, I believe in the philosophy: “actions are louder than words.” To put it another way, rhetoric, talk, propaganda, vanity for a public image… are all easily disguised, especially in first impressions. But a longer period of time eventually bears out a person’s core character, most wonderfully (or tragically) in hard difficult times. 😀

    I strongly believe that our family environment dictates MUCH of our character as well. Fortunately, with a bit of luck too, we all can change those influences and factors if they do not serve an altruistic greater good, for a greater number.

    On another note, and another reason why I’m looking forward to your series — time & schedule willing — is that I’m currently in the middle of a fabulous book on this very subject; well, closely related. It is written by Roman Krznaric called “How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life.” Here’s a link to his website/book, if interested:

    http://www.romankrznaric.com/outrospection/2013/12/02/2132

    It has some delicious meaty stuff that if I know you Swarn, you’ll really like. Perhaps it will inspire you to inspire others like it has done for me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Professor, I did a short post in late 2013 on Outrospection. Swarn may not have time to read the book right now or the vast amount of information on the site, but he can get a good idea from this 10 minute RSA video I embedded in this post. .

      Hope you get your wifi back soon. Looks like Yahweh changed his mind about destroying Texans by a flood. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This video is great because it helps me sort out empathy for this series because I think empathy does fit under two of my virtues, but didn’t know the psychological delineation between the two types of empathy. I expect I’ll be learning a lot along the way as I do this.

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  4. For better or worse, I tend to look for the good in people, too. Even when I’m fully aware of their negative qualities I can mostly overlook them and recognize the value in the good they have within them. I’m looking forward to the series. On to post 1!

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    1. I think part of my ability to see good in people is also because I tend to see good and bad qualities as lying on similar spectrums that span from one extreme to another. So instead of focusing on the bad I like to think about how that negative quality can be shifted in a positive direction. So I do try to understand all qualities of human behavior, but ultimately I like to think about it in a proactive way. Okay there are bad qualities…how do we turn it around? While also trying to maintain compassion and understand the story of how someone got to where they are today. I may have mentioned before that part of coming to peace with my dad’s alcoholism was understanding more about the traumatic events of his past that shaped him.

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      1. I do think there’s a fine line -at least for myself – between looking for the good qualities and trying to spin the negative ones and self-harm. In the past, and even now, I have a hard time differentiating between empathy and sympathy. I do think it’s important to try to understand where people(i.e. your dad’s alcoholism) are coming from. The fine line comes when I allow myself to be taken advantage of because of the compassion I feel. It’s hard to know where to draw the line so that our lives are not traumatized by the traumatic events of others.

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        1. True, we do need to recognize that we all have our limits. Some people get deeper into the mud and still get out with sinking into the mire. Of course we can only find that line by acting on our compassion. I am not certain it is possible to find our limits without testing them. And of course it may take us over the course of our life to find that line if it is possible at all. We are also dynamic so we can’t always expect that what our limit is at one stage of our life is at the same as others. Perhaps I should have put it in my prelude to this series, although I had planned for my summation post afterwards that I don’t pretend any of these qualities are easy, but rather things to continue to strive towards, recognizing that we are not perfect and because of the experiences we have faced and due to probably some natural genetic factors as well, we are going struggle more with certain qualities than others. Sometimes my efforts don’t always lead to success and sometimes I find I’ve extended myself beyond my limits, but I try to take more comfort in the fact that I am making the effort and had good intentions, and try to learn what I can from the situation to carry it forward for a better future. 🙂

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