Simple Goodness

In previous years I have written about St Dominic in terms of truth and beauty, but this morning, with Iraqi Christians and Yazidis fleeing before their persecutors and the situation of Christians in Syria and other parts of the Near and Middle East scarcely better, I am attracted to that third part of the Platonic trinity: goodness.

Goodness doesn’t get very much attention these days, probably because we have become lazy in our thinking. We tend to see goodness as something other than virtue, i.e. not a moral quality as such but something innate over which we have little control. We are ‘good’ in the same way that we are blue-eyed or brown-haired. It may not be in our genes, but it is somehow part of us. I’m not quite convinced of that.

God is the supreme good, and I trust St Dominic might forgive this non-Dominican for thinking that the love of truth he inculcated in his sons and daughters was part of the quest for this supreme good. But how is goodness linked to this supreme good, God? In the Germanic languages the connection with God is fairly obvious; so can we say that goodness is a reflection of God, a God-given quality, in fact? If so, it is something we are free either to accept or reject, and so far is it from being innate, we must work at it as we must work at other qualities.

I think part of the solution to the problem I have posed myself can be found in the title of this blog post. I spoke of ‘simple goodness’. The Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict is largely about purity of heart — the simplification of being that results in closeness to God. To be close to God is to be like him — to be good, as he is good. St Dominic wanted everyone to be close to God and as like him as possible. It is a challenge we must take up in our own lives.

I am not sure how that can help our Iraqi brothers and sisters, but I am certain that it can.

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1 thought on “Simple Goodness”

  1. Dominic is someone close to my heart as I chose him as my Confirmation name. Although, he seems to be overshadowed by other Saints, so we don’t hear much of him these days, and his Saint’s day, isn’t marked in other than the Catholic Calendar.

    Simplicity is something that struck me when I read about him and you’re highlighting simple goodness enhances that in my thoughts.

    Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way that the Christians in Iraq will be helped if there is some form of external intervention. I see that the USA is now going to do something, but our own Government, despite announcing it’s concern, is still thinking about things. If ever there was a justification for intervention it’s the genocide that’s taking place there, daily. But we need the United Nations to take a lead and all nations to cooperate in any intervention, not just the USA which will be widely seen as an aggressor, rather than a humanitarian intervention. What about NATO which pontificates about its continuing peace keeping role, but stands on the sidelines unless it’s constituent governments agree to it’s taking action.

    I’m against armed intervention in others affairs, but we stood by while Rwanda happened, we did nothing in Southern Sudan, we did nothing in the Congo or the Central African Republic. I reminds me of the appeasement that went on while Hitler marched across Austria and Chekoslovakia – are we so insulated to genocide that we’re prepared to stand by and allow it to continue for ever?

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