I have reached an age, soon to be a Grandpa, statistically much closer to meeting the Saints Triumphant, as I pass the median age and get farther from my birth, where I may get to reach one of my life goals — to be a curmudgeon.
Look it up. Andy Rooney could not have been a curmudgeon in his younger days — it was only the wild gray hair and the two unruly pelts of eyebrows that earned him the right to comment on society. The jowls helped, too.
And in the spirit of Andy Rooney, I need to vent a little, so let’s talk about “good” and “community service.”
“Good.” It’s a good word. It is a useful word. It refers to morals. You did not eat a “good” pizza. Was the pizza morally superior to the lasagna you could have had instead? No, the pizza was tasty. That’s what you meant, right? There are tons of tasty foods. People have been making tasty food for ages.
There is soul food in every country where the poor people would take the cheap cuts relegated to them and turn them into a feast. But food in and of itself is morally neutral. That said, you can have a good meal because of the company you kept during the meal and because of the love and respect with which people esteemed each other.
“Want more lasagna?”
The jury is out on whether you are a good person or not. What you mean is “I am satisfied” or “I am copacetic” (look it up). If your belly is full and you do not wish for more, then you are sated, you are not “good.”
“The Packers sure played good Sunday.” You mean they were the morally superior team? Or do you mean that they played well and won the game? Then say so! I currently have the highest bowling average in town and I have never once bowled a good game. Matter of fact, on some games where I scored well I have been less than charitable to my earthly companions — I have been competitive.
“Good” is an important word. It’s a good word. It’s a moral word. Let’s use it when things are truly good.
I was talking about community service to some junior high students in confirmation class. Finally, one of the kids asked, “Pastor, what did we do wrong?” For them, community service was something judges ordered criminals to do. Community service had ceased to be an expression of civic duty or civic pride.
Community service has ceased to be a good thing to do by people of free will but has become something done by compulsion, ordered contrary to the will of the miscreant. If the person felt an inkling for community service they probably would not have been committing crimes in the first place.
Churches, Scouting, community service organizations (like Lions and Rotary and the Knights) have accepted a moral compulsion to be forces of good in their communities. And because it is an expression of their free will, the good is done more sincerely. Can’t the judges call it mandated labor and leave community service to the realm in which in belongs — community service organizations and people wanting to do good?
Now, for the record, when I bid you to have a good day, I mean it. I wish for you to be a moral force for good in the community, a transformative being for good. If I wish for you to have a pleasant day then I am hoping that you find the weather comfortable and that you have fun.
I have other things I feel curmudgeonly about but it is probably a good thing that space is limited.
Have a good day!