Unfortunately much of the daily news is horrific. Thank the Lord for broadcasters who attempt in some small part to find one “good news” story to report, or some heroic act done by a selfless person. Frequently these folks say after doing some very brave thing, “I’m no hero. I just knew I had to so something.” The good deed gets maybe 30 to 45 seconds of airtime and then it’s back to the basics, violence in one form or another punctuated by misconduct, murder and mayhem.
Hugh Laurie said of his television character Gregory House: “As a real person, he wouldn’t last a minute, would he? But drama is about imperfection. And we’ve moved away from the aspirational hero. We got tired of it; it was dull. If I was House’s friend, I would hate it. How he so resolutely refuses to be happy or take the kindhearted road. But we don’t always like morally good people, do we?”
I am troubled by this assessment. Is it because I fear Laurie is right? We want the heroic underdog to overcome, or at least we say we do, but too often we relate to the negative personality or anti-hero. They seem more real to us than the sterling good guy, the Dudley Do-Right. He’s just too good to be true, and if Laurie is correct, we see the good guy as boring or foolhardy while the badass is exciting. I wonder how many battered women feel that way after living with a badass for a while?
The television and movie industry, perhaps the entertainment industry overall, reflects our fascination with negativity. Much of what we see is less about overcoming and more about fallibility. There are few heroes, unless they’re dressed in goofy super-power costumes. The elemental goodness of ordinary people is rarely revealed. Do we not believe in or want to promote goodness?
I believe in goodness. I am uplifted when I see a story in the paper about personal triumph, or about someone who went the extra mile to help someone else. That is what shapes my world.
And that’s the point of life, not what other people do, but how you treat people and give back goodness, even when you have been treated unfairly. Every act of mercy and kindness has a far-reaching effect, perhaps in ways you will never know. One act of kindness may be little more than a drop in the bucket that is life, yet you can be assured it will ripple out and touch others.