I think that insights have the power to change the way we think and ultimately our lives. So I’ve decided to share some of my insights every month! Here are 3 insights I learned or I thought about in December.
Insight #1: There are some things you can only understand if you have enough background information to know why it matters. – Paula Ghete
Over the past years, there were many times when I learned new information that made me realize how harmful some behaviours are, even though they are considered normal by most people. Some examples are eating meat and dairy, traveling by airplane, watching pornography, buying material things, trying to help your children too much and so on.
As soon as I learned new things and reflected on it, it became obvious what is right and what is wrong and why. But in order to get to this point, I needed to learn a few things. Without a basic awareness and knowledge about many topics, we are unable to understand what is happening.
We cannot see the problem with our behaviours so we carry on as if we are not doing any harm. Oh, but the harm is there! Just because we are too ignorant, unaware or uneducated to understand the implications and consequences of our behaviour that does not absolve us in any way!
Every time we fly a plane, we contribute to pollution and climate change.
Every time we watch a porn video, we are contributing to a world where women are trafficked, forced to perform, used as a piece of meat and degraded in one of the worst ways possible.
Every time we eat meat or drink milk, we condemn innocent sentient beings to a life of misery and a painful death.
Unfortunately, it is often very hard or sometimes impossible for us to understand the damage we are causing and how it is affecting everyone – including ourselves. We need a little bit of good information to understand the ramifications of our actions. But, as I said, we are responsible for what we do. And we need to learn enough to understand what we are doing and what that means. Ignorance is not an excuse for all the harm we may be causing.
What you can do
There are many things you can do. And I really hope you will do something. If you think you are a good person or you want to be one, it is your responsibility to audit yourself and your habits, learn about them and make the necessary changes.
Here are some steps:
- Think about all the habits you consider normal. What do you do in a normal day or week? Make a list and then think about what harm those habits might cause. It is often very easy to see this if you just think about it long enough.
- Do research! If there is something you do that is wrong, read about it. You can find great resources that clarify things in just a few minutes. If there is a behaviour that may or may not be harmful, read about it to find out the truth!
- Aim to expand your general knowledge. The more you learn about how the world works, the better you will understand the consequences of your actions.
I know that it is easier not to think about what you normally do. You can do that. But don’t think for a second that this chosen ignorance makes you a good person. It doesn’t. Actually, if you have the chance to learn the truth about your actions and you run away from it, you are a pretty bad and coward person.
Have the courage to audit yourself, look for the truth and do the right thing! It’s the only way to be a good person and live a great life!
Insight #2: Being a good person takes more than not being a bad person. – Paula Ghete
Most people think they are good people. If you ask them, they will say so. They will say: “I am a good person. I do not kill, rape or steal from others. So I’m a good person.” Well, if that’s your answer too, I have news for you: you are not a good person. You just have a lousy way of defining what good means!
Terrible people do terrible things. But the people who do not do terrible things are not automatically good. They are just…normal or “not bad”. And just because you do not kill, rape or steal, that does not mean you do not do any harm. Do you bully people? Do you download movies illegally? Do you watch porn? Do you lie to the people in your life? Do you avoid to pay taxes? Do you always put yourself first and never think about others? Well, these things are pretty bad in my opinion.
And let’s take this even further – to be a good person, it’s not enough to refrain from doing bad things. You also have to do the right things! Do you help other people who are in need? Do you ever donate or volunteer at a charity or NGO? Do you stand up for someone who is being mistreated in public? Do you try to be kind to others? Do you sometimes go out of your way to help others? Are you responsible for your actions? If you do some of these things, you are probably a better person.
It’s definitely hard to draw the line and say what makes us bad and good. But this is not an excuse for us to let ourselves get off the hook. We need to remember that, if we want to be good people, we have to ACT in a way that limits suffering and enhances the wellbeing of the people around us, society and the environment.
What you can do
Think about how you define good and bad. What moral compass do you use? What is your standard for being a good person? Take some time and seriously reflect on this if you want to call yourself good.
It may be a good idea to create your own moral code. You need to decide for yourself the type of person you want to be.
Insight #3: It is up to us to encourage and enforce good behaviours in society. – Paula Ghete
Let me tell you about something that happened to me. A few days ago, I went to the cinema to see Aquaman with my boyfriend Rady and his family. We were sitting in the 2nd row from the top. Before the movie began, a few young people took their places on the row behind us. And they wouldn’t stop talking. But I assumed they would once the movie started. I was wrong!
We were about 20 minutes into the movies and they were all talking loudly and making really bad jokes and laughing alone. At this point I was already mad because they acted like immature children who have no idea how to behave in public. And I find this intolerable. Radu tried to politely ask them to be quiet and they ignored him. So a few minutes later, I turned back to them and told them that people came to the cinema to watch the movie and not to listen to them. I also added that “You are acting like kids in the 8th grade. Wow! You think you’re so cool!” I can only assume they got the message because they shut up for the rest of the movie. When they did say something else to each other, they were quiet and kept it short. So…I guess this was effective!
After this event, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I felt proud that I put them in their place and forced them to be quiet. On the other hand, I was surprised that nobody else said anything. I am sure they were not happy with the noise since these guys were quiet loud and annoying. And then I thought to myself that it is very sad people usually “stay out of it”. We shouldn’t! And I’m not just talking about a bunch of noisy immature guys at a cinema.
I think that people are generally passive – even when worse things happen. I remember seeing a video once that proved exactly this. Some actors staged the apparent kidnapping of a woman in broad daylight on a busy street in Barcelona (I think). NOBODY attempted to stop them and NOBODY called the police. They saw a woman being dragged by two man and pushed into a van against her will and they DID NOTHING!
I find this extremely disappointing and concerning. This shows that we are either so selfish we do not care about others at all or we are so scared or such cowards that we do nothing at all. And whatever the reason is for our lack of response in such situations, I find it unacceptable.
We need to understand that we have to look out for each other. We need to hold people accountable and force them to step up when they are failing. If the only thing we do when someone misbehaves is to turn a blind eye, many people will suffer and things will only get worse.
And if we are indifferent to others, they will be indifferent to us. If you are mistreated, get robbed or attacked on the street, don’t expect other to come to your rescue. Because apparently most people will just carry on.
But to be honest, I don’t want to live in this type of world. I find it unacceptable to think that nobody cares about other. So I have decided to do. I have decided to be more mindful about what happens in public places. And if someone misbehaves and I can call them out and ask them to be responsible, I will! I am hoping that you and more people will do this more. The only way we can live in a safer, better world is for us to step in and demand that people behave respectfully to everyone, at all times, in every place!
What you can do
If you see someone throwing trash on the ground, pushing people or doing something that negatively affects society, speak up! Tell them to act better.
Whenever you see someone doing something that is harmful, dangerous or wrong, do something. Alert others, call the police, ask for help or take their picture. Obviously, I am not suggesting you pick fights and do something dangerous. Try to be safe and mindful, but do what you can. Whatever you can do to help make our societies better and safer, do that. And do it often – hopefully it will catch on!