Most people are good and yet, when it comes to the news, books, television shows, and movies, the emphasis is on the bad. Now while bad makes for great plots, what are the underlying assumptions of bad being more worthy than good as the focus of media content creation?
Good Doesn’t Make For a Good Story
That good is boring.
That bad is worse than it actually is.
That therefore a normal person without supernatural or worldly power can’t make much of a difference before ever increasing bad. We are powerless; either we have to get power to contribute to change or stand around while others save us.
Not the Best Script To Live By
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my life according to this script.
There are so many potential negative repercussions when these assumptions become belief, conscious or not. The banality of good might be why so many people are not attracted to it as a life-long vocation. How can they be, when it’s implied that only the special can make a difference? Instead, they can strive to become a super lawyer because then they will be able to create justice. Or they can strive to become a super doctor which will allow them to fix failing healthcare systems.
Small caveat: to become a super lawyer or doctor, one has to become part of the system; chances are the system might bog them down by the very things they want to change.
Flipping Things Around
What would happen if our media content was based instead on good things? What is good was glorified? What if we glorified the efforts of a small group working to ensure that no one in their neighborhood is lonely? Or the successful service projects that are done day after day in various corners of the globe? Or the families that are striving to create a loving, just, and vibrant environment in their homes? Or governments working on empowering populations, or corporations making the shift from profit to people?
Glorifying the Regular Good?
Good suddenly seems a lot more exciting. On a personal level we would learn to notice the good around us—and there is a lot of it. We would also believe that it’s us normal people who are key in making these changes happen. We would also realise that there are many people trying to make the world a better place, that we can easily find our place right beside them, and that combined, they can contribute decisively to the betterment of society.
The way we view reality is so much more important than we realise. Yes, it would be amazing if there was a Superman who could swoop in and pick the car off the child; but it’s even more amazing when, in real life, a large group of normal people come together to lift the car and save the child. The latter makes for much better entertainment but the former makes for much better inspiration. The latter discourages us normal people from thinking we could ever do something similar, while the latter makes us look around to see where and when our small contribution can be added to that of others with amazing results. Good has been made banal, when in fact, it has the power to lead to the extraordinary.
4 thoughts on “Learning to Love and Live The Banality of Good”
These are excellent points as we tend to see only what we already believe. As they say, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail 🙂 If you haven’t already come upon it you might be interested in the idea of positive deviance. This is the focus is on successes (in any given area) to find the solution to problems in the same area – this video describes it very well – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqVrjym1z0g
I only briefly read about the idea of positive deviance, and definitely have never seen that talk, thank you so much for pointing it out–it’s on my to-watch list! Have you written anything about positive deviance on your blog? If so, I would love it if you could drop a link below both for my sake and that of other readers!
I loved reading this and I do agree with you on so many points, and you are right that wherever we direct our focus we will see what we are looking for, if we focus on good we will see more if it around us.
Thank you for sharing! Do you find it hard to remember this? Also, do you find it hard to remember to not completely forget about the bad so that we can do something about it?