Ever since the existence of man, mankind has tried to define what a good person is. The greatest philosophers and the most influential people in history have tried to lead lives and be an example of a life worth living. My favorite and most influential political figure that I know and have studied is Nelson Mandela. His life experiences have taught me that I have been given a life to lead not for oneself, but for others and that to lead that life one must understand what is most important and work every day to achieve such standings. However, to interpret that it is what a good person does or is, is to suggest that no one else can have another claim or else I am to judge that person as not as good. What is most important in life? How do we attain what we think is most important in life?
The first overnight trip that my wife and I went on was a couples retreat to the mountains. In between outdoor “teamwork” activities there were guest speakers that would teach us about what they felt were the most important lessons a couple should know so that they could have a fulfilling marriage. One of the guest speakers spoke about the importance of making a personal and couple’s mission statement and that by living that mission statement you would experience fulfillment in your life. While my wife and I thought about what we would write in our personal and couple’s mission statements we made a list of what we felt was most important in our lives. Our top three were God, family, and community/friends. What we decided to put as our mission statement is a reflection of what we think it means to be a good person. Furthermore, making a mission statement defines what a person thinks is most important in their life.
Like Nelson Mandela just understanding and realizing what you think is most important in life is half of what makes a good person. Once realizing what elements make a good person living it and becoming it are the next steps. With my wife we decided that trying to attain the attributes of Christ would have a great affect on how we treat others and ourselves and ultimately we accomplish part of our mission statement. We set out to attain such attributes through fasting and prayer, service and worship. While doing such things we would try to constantly be reminded of our weakness towards an attribute and how to change to attain it.
During family council and FHE my wife and I set up goals and milestones that we think are important for our family and our children. In this way we are all on the same page as to what our family needs and wants are. Our happiest times and memories have been with our family and we want to replicate them as much as possible.
We have also come to realize that our family is not an island and that we interact with our community and friends on a daily basis. A simple principle that we strive to always live by is that it is better to be good than it is to be right. A lot of miscommunications and contention can be solved simply by trying to be good rather than to be right. When we can we strive to serve, this simple action of serving we have realized has done a lot in our stance in the community.
In the case of Nelson Mandela, he sacrificed a lot on his journey to understanding what it means to be a good person and live it. In his case he was able to heal and change an entire nation. That example alone is what makes me ponder why he is so influential and the power it is to define for yourself what is most important and live it.