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Why The Good Isn't Attractive

14/11/2016 1:00 PM IST | Updated 27/11/2016 9:33 AM IST
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It's unhinging to know that what is "good" isn't always attractive. What I mean is that the choices that are universally deemed to be morally good are, more often than not, not the most enticing or appealing ones. We are all brought up being taught to be good to others, to be morally sound and ethically consistent so as to be beneficial and advantageous to our people; this lays the foundation of our societal edifice. However, it's notable that as we grow up and enter the hard-hitting, real world, these sentiments dampen. The so-called "virtues", though still appreciable, lose their lustre. I know that the greatest incentives for departing from moral conduct are selfish concerns, but those are not what I'm discussing here. I'm zeroing in on the fact that what is "good" is often deemed dull, unappealing to the spirit, and devoid of charisma.

Such is the nature of the human psyche, that the "good" with a tinge of "bad" is what evokes our maximum admiration and approval.

Let me prod you into imagining some such instances. Villains are hated all over, but often the conventional hero is also a lacklustre, unentertaining character — the antihero instead does a much better job of evoking our admiration. Being sober and pledging to abstinence is universally admired, but not always appealing to the imagination. The good is often devoid of style, and the "not-so-good" is full of appeal.

It's easy to infer why this happens. As we dissect the perception of "good" and "moral", we find that what is viewed as generous, humble, benevolent and kind (and therefore of maximum benefit to society) at the same time conveys a submissive, tranquil character devoid of the energy that excites our passions. The very idea of being "good", though highly commendable, fails to attract the delight (and thus the allegiance) of many human spirits.

Such is the nature of the human psyche that the "good" with a tinge of "bad" is what evokes our maximum admiration and approval. However, the human mind is also equally vulnerable to confounding the "all bad" with "some bad", and that's where it gets menacing: people take the side of the evil and abandon the good with a sense of justification.

But what if a subtle manipulation of our perception of "good" is brought about? What if we're able to somehow infuse that glamour, charisma and splendour to the concept of "pure good" and alter its perception in the minds of the masses? In simpler words, what if we can introduce style and attractiveness into the concept of "good?" As farfetched as the above might seem, this minute change in perception might have the ability to turn the course of humanity in an instant. To carry it out, however, would require a generation of humans that has the kind of mastery over these subtleties of the psyche as the present generation has over machines and technologies — and I'm positive that the future will indeed see a generation of people who will succeed in growing beyond our disdain for self-transformation (just as we transcended our forebears' initial dislike of technology), and see it as an indispensable tool for the advancement of human civilisation.

A version of this article was first published on the blog The Free-Thinking Medic

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