The Boomer Balancing Act- Being Good in a Tempting World
I am cursed with what seems ridiculously paradoxical. I have spent my life trying to live as a good person in a world that is obsessed with bad.
We baby boomers were raised in a world of good guys winning which was based on the efforts of a parenting group that had saved the world from the badness of the likes of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo.
The comic books of that period all espoused the righteousness of our soldiers’ exploits in WW2 and the movie screens and books were based on war heroes like Audie Murphy and John Wayne.
The cowboys were all good guys winning gunfights over the likes of Billy the Kid and a host of infamous outlaws. The US cavalry were beating Red Indians like Sitting Bull and Geronimo on movie screens at the matinee thus suppressing the slaughter of white settlers in the west of USA.
Our story books were mostly fairy tales of good endings and good feelings about the world and good guys were portrayed through a new medium of television where the new frontier of crime fighters and honest lawmen putting bad guys behind bars became a daily event.
We attended Sunday school and were introduced to the biblical stories of David beating Goliath and Samson saving people by holding up collapsing walls. People doing good things in life for others.
We went to sleep with the security of parents wishing us a good night’s sleep and God’s blessing.
So there was an expectation in my mind that I wanted a good guy life as opposed to a lifestyle that would involve negativeness, petty or major crime or having relationships with bad people.
Indeed there were temptations like petty thieving from stores, drugs and fraud that were dangled as carrots over those early teen years.
Sounds simplistic enough to be good but it is not all clear sailing if you choose to over-ride any individual bad feelings or thoughts. It is actually difficult to nurture good with bad questioning your every daily good intent
My life is full of examples of that conflict between good and bad. From the first memories I have with sibling rivalry I recall the guilt of being the one child of six who always volunteered assistance to my poor overworked mother. Not that my siblings didn’t assist her but I worked on it.
If she wanted groceries from the shop I was the one who mainly made that trip for her, washed blinds, helped around the house with domestic chores and in the garden mowing and weeding and was rewarded with a dose of goodness in her standard thank you- “you are a good boy Brian”. My goodness was rewarded and it felt comfortable.
Other examples would be our neighbours. I spent many hours cutting lawns, weeding gardens and doing odd jobs for them as well and my reward- feeling good about helping them.
I am still giving that assistance to current neighbours as a volunteer and they are grateful.
I was named " the preacher' in my teaching days because I constantly stood by my goodness philosophy and reminded those around me of the importance of role models doing the right thing always.
It was not just good actions that personified my life but the outcomes of ethical questions that were raised during certain activities during my youth.
For example, Boy Scout leaders that thought rubbing shoe polish on your testicles has an initiation into the scout patrol group as they were called was acceptable to me. Well Curlew patrol at 1st Toowong boy scouts lost me when I saw it happen at scout camps and decided it was a bad habit to be introduced to so I left the scouts behind even though my mum was keen for me to stay.
It was a difficult subject to address so I didn’t talk about it just acted.
Also, my good mate Ted Shepherd and I were accosted by an old fellow on a bike while we were out on an innocent riding adventure as 12 year olds and he wanted to show us dirty pictures he had in his possession to rob us of that innocence.
We hightailed it out of there because we knew he was bad. It’s an innate sense to me that we know bad and good and it boils down to what is good for you as an individual with the decisions you make about life and the consequences of those decisions.
What you do or say to people has to be based on our innate feelings of whether that is good for them or whether we would let them do it to us.
I have always wondered why people have to have someone tell them in a sermon what is good for them and what is bad when we have this sensory power to trigger that ability and make appropriate decisions based on that signal without any religious assistance if we can be strong enough in our thinking.
I took LSD, weed and mushrooms as a teenager but only once and I did inhale the weed. I didn’t listen to the sensory signal and lost control of my mind for a few hours on each occasion although the weed was not as acute but still affective.
I never used it again as I knew that I had committed an offence by law as well as losing my ability to make immediate good decisions and I felt terrible guilty at allowing peer pressure to influence me. The goodness in me overrode the bad.
My daughter started smoking weed at high school and I asked her to investigate the ramifications of smoking weed long term and after doing some investigation she too stopped as she knew it was not good for you.
We are in control of our own destiny and we only have to base it on a good spiritual virtue. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you and as my father would say….always do the right thing mate and life will look after you.
I turned my back on mates who had decided to experiment with drugs because I knew that it was bad news and have witnessed how easy it is to become a drug addict and your real self disappears to become a rehabilitated version of your true self.
Friends have sons who became addicts and it caused unnecessary angst in families with the negative world it unleashes on all players.
My parenting style was based on good role modelling and analogies that my children could relate to. I subdued them as young children by asking them to choose between a happy good dad or an angry bad dad.
One good smack unleashed the bad dad image and loving hugs and laughter the good dad. They wanted good dad always.
A teacher I worked with used to put a diagram on the board of what happens as a teenager if you decide to break the law and what happens to those who follow a journey of self-achievement and reward. Most students acknowledge the good pathway as the one they would want to follow. At least it was spelt out for them but we know anyway because it is innate to be good.
I have reached my golden years and can pick a good person now after 5 minutes of conversation. One of my son in laws for example was with me in a shopping centre and we were conversing until suddenly he moved quickly towards an elderly lady who was struggling with a shopping trolley and he asked if he could assist. A born good guy and a pleasure to be around. My two daughters are always supporting anti- cruelty issues, assisting those who are in hardship and supporting the strugglers of life and are full of goodness.
My sons are not as active but I have proudly worked with them in the mud army after the Brisbane floods and I know they are good people at heart although not as aligned as the girls.
My wife and I have a good relationship where we actively practice goodness by supporting and respecting each other and others. It is a good life to live and we are rewarded with very little drama in our lives as we only encourage good people to be part of the life we live.
My message is simple….live a life with a spiritual goodness whatever its origins because you want to and don’t let the temptations of badness spoil your lives.