Goodness and Comic Characters

Posted on 26 September 2010

Goodness in people is often portrayed as either weak and vapid or authoritarian and judgemental. This largely has to do with our cultural and religious experience of this concept. Goodness in these senses can be defined as how well we acquiesce to and/or enforce the demands of authority, whether that authority be political, social, or divine. Freedom gets left behind with this definition, as well as respect for the individual. It’s no wonder that amoral and quasi-evil characters are more attractive to young people. There’s a reason why vampires are so popular.

Those figures who I would consider truly good, due to their  universal compassion and the service they provide the world, may not help make goodness attractive. People like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr willingly faced violence and imprisonment in service of freedom. Jane Goodall spent years alone in the jungle observing apes and thereby discovered certain truths about humanity and our relationship with nature. Most admire these individuals. Most feel incapable of measuring up to their standards and are frightened of being asked to make similar sacrifices.

What people need are more examples of genuine everyday acts of kindness, the sort they can believe in and achieve. We all feel anger, frustration, even hatred and it is so much easier to relate to villains who let these take over their lives, but that’s hardly a happy, peaceful, or stress-free life.  The value of comedic characters is that they are human, fallible, and believable. Things can go wrong, but they are resilient. Their acts of goodness may or may not result in positive outcomes, but we value the attempt. Their heart is in the right place and that means something.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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