To be good

What does it mean to be a good person? Is it acts of altruism or is it just being sufficiently devoid of malevolence that you are deemed acceptable by society?

We have all been asked to be good as children and obey our elders but I suggest that does sufficiently make one good. We are all born innocent and then receive an influx of socialization that sometimes introduces ignorance which can lead to inadvertent evil. If our patents are racist, for example, we will have learned from them and yet not realize their baseless opinions are destructive.
When I was in high school I did a presentation in religion class (I was educated by the Jesuits) where I suggested that we would not recognize good if there were no evil and it is through differentiation that we make the distinction. That simplication worked on one of my fellow student inquisitors but today I realize it's a more complex subject.
I believe we can know moral rectitude in the absence of religion simply through the logic that doing no harm is positive for society. But then doing no harm leaves out the kindness of strangers who do such marvelous things for their fellow human beings.
Philosophers like Kant arrive at the value of good through logical and precise argumentation but there is something more ethereal about it and it is that intangible that still keeps me entrenched in the domain of the spiritual.


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