Each week I send a quote I find thought-provoking to a group of mostly young adults who, over the years, have been a part of service learning trips with me.
The quote I selected and sent today is one by Henry David Thoreau:
“Aim high above morality.
Be not good; be good for something.”
As I spent a few minutes reflecting on that quote here is what I found myself thinking about.
Morality – naming something as right or wrong – is easy and neat.
It makes it easy to define what is good and what is bad.
Who is in and who is out.
Who you should associate with and who you should avoid.
On the other hand, being good for something;
Trying to do something that is good, is messy.
It means mixing it up with those who morality would tell you to avoid.
It means taking a chance on doing something without any real sense that what you do will help or be successful or even, in the long run, be good.
Trying to do good, is sloppy work.
With no guarantees.
No clear lines.
No neat boundaries.
And, often with more risk than reward.
So, aim high.
Be good for something.