“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” (A. Lincoln) – from the Jacks Winning Words blog. Jack’s remarks included the fact that Lincoln was not a very religious man, but a good man who did know the Bible quite well and made his life an example of trying to do good. I would hope that all of us live to some extent by the same philosophy. At the very least that philosophy is based upon knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.
Sometimes I wonder, as I’m watching the news each night about all of the bad things that people do, how they grew up not being able to tell the difference between right and wrong or even worse, knowing the difference and making the choices that they do to take the bad path. Do they feel bad when they do that or are they just numb to those feelings? Maybe for some, doing bad things makes them feel good, or so they think. I can’t even imagine how robbing or shooting someone could make one feel good. I feel the same about people who show prejudices and hatred against others, no matter how different they may be. How can that make them really feel good?
Every now and then, I’ll say something stupid and flip, maybe about something that my wife has done or said and she’ll call me on it. Shen will say, “Did that make you feel better, to point out my mistake?” I suppose feeling small in those moments is equivalent to feeling bad. I sure now that it doesn’t feel good. I’ve been known to comment out loud, in
fit of road rage, about something that someone else may have done while we were out driving somewhere. She calls me on that, too; sometimes without saying anything at all. I realize that I’ve done another bad thing and that makes me feel bad.
I think it’s important that we admit it to ourselves, and perhaps to those around us, when we’ve done bad (or stupid or insensitive) things; and, where possible, to make up for them. It’s the right thing to do; and, while it is not my religion, it is part of my religion, a teaching from my religion and the thing I am called upon to do by my religion. The words of James 4:17 sum it pretty succinctly – “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
For Abraham Lincoln and for most of us, just knowing the difference between right and wrong and between good and bad is no enough, we must choose to do what is right and good in order to feel good about ourselves and about life in general. So get out there this week and do good. It’ll make you feel good, too.