From lectures by Dennis Prager at the University of Judaism. Order his series on How to be Good from www.dennisprager.com
Prager says that no system or faith or anything, guarantees goodness. You've got to seek goodness as your behavioral goal.
P wishes that goodness and depth were the twin pillars of the education system. But they're not. Instead it's brilliance and success.
Part one. Why be good?
The following reasons are in no order of importance.
Number one. Because if everyone acted this way we'd live in a beautiful world.
I've asked people in various courses I've given and on the radio - Has the greatest amount of your suffering come from people or from natural causes? And the overwhelming majority usually indicate that most of their suffering has come from people. People hurt people.
Reason two to be good. Because you will like yourself more.
That's why I have so much trouble with this self-esteem movement because I think self-esteem is earned, not announced. When you do esteemable things, you have self-esteem. If you don't, you can say all day that I am wonderful...
Reason three for why be good. Because you will probably be treated better.
Generally speaking, people who act good tend to be treated good. It's not an ironclad rule and it doesn't apply to children.
We may have been scarred as a child by trying to be good and getting beaten up. And the bully got the girl.
Aren't you more likely to be good towards someone who treats you in such a manner?
Number four. Because it makes you feel good.
Proof? Compare how you feel after going to a movie or sporting event or some fun thing and how you feel after visiting a hospital or any good deed.
You'll find that doing good makes you feel good.
It's one of my arguments that people aren't basicly evil because it feels good to do good.
The trouble is you don't wake up in the morning wanting to do good. That's not the way we're built.
Reason five. Because you know how much you want others to be good.
Think about it. Is there anything in your life more important than that other people be good to you? So isn't it obvious that's what they want from you.
Number six. Because God said so.
Even if you are an atheist, you should understand that if there's no God who wants you to be good, there aren't always that many persuasive reasons for doing good.
I don't believe that God was invented so we could have goodness. I don't believe that He's an instrumentality of morality.
But do understand that God is a necessary component in many people's lives for being good, particularly when push comes to shove.
Reason seven. Because a part of you wants to be good.
This even includes a lot of people who do evil who also want to do good. Such people often call the evil they do good. Hitler believed that by exterminating Jews he was doing the Lord's work.