Why “Am I a good person?” isn’t the right question

I think a lot of people will ask themselves, “am I a good person”? It’s not the worst question; certainly a classic! The kind of question that might be lobbed at Jesus or other religious figures throughout time. Surprise, they often dodged giving any kind of direct answer.

If people answer it in their own mind, I mean, people with self esteem issues aside, I bet way to many come up with something pretty mundane like, “Better than some, worse than plenty, but probably not too different from many like me who had lived through the exact same stuff.” A true enough non-answer if ever there were one.

What if the problem is the question itself. It feels simple and like it should have a clear answer, but bad questions often disguise themselves as such.

The question just doesn’t lead to much… good. Plus it has a number of problems. It frames goodness as binary, which it isn’t. It frames goodness as static, which it isn’t. (ie. if you are “good” at the point of time of answering must you always then be good?) Additionally, whatever answer you come up with for it it doesn’t give you much outcome for moving forward.

A better and more meaningful question might be, “how can I be better than the person I would have been if I were just following the the path otherwise laid out for me.”