Most of us think we are a pretty good person. Although we may not declare the fact with words, our self-righteousness is spoken by our actions. We all do things that we know aren’t right, but we do them anyway because they aren’t really that bad, like spitting our gum on the sidewalk or writing a blog while we’re at work. However, each of us has a list of things we would never do, because those things are really wrong, like stealing a car or cheating on a spouse. This list of inconceivable acts keeps us safely elevated above others, so that we may gaze down with contempt at those who do not hold to our standards.
This system also applies to social laws, ensuring that we don’t fall into that stereotypical group of people we enjoy disliking so much. We may have a nice house, but we don’t waste money like those people. We may not have the best kept yard, but at least we don’t have car parts lying about like them. Even if we were to break one of our rules, we would have a completely logical reason for this exception. All of our deeds are reasonable and fair, neither too hot nor too cold.
Basically, the idea is that, no matter who we are, we can use certain rules and behaviors to distinguish ourselves from others. We create an arbitrarily line in the sand, or a point on a slope, based on what we feel is right and say, “Anything beyond this point is unacceptable.”
As shown above, you rank somewhere slightly above average goodness which those people cannot seem to attain. Wait, why is A Stone on the graph? The reason is that the whole system we have set up to measure our goodness uses only negative indicators. We think we are good because we don’t swear too much, drink too much, drive too fast or watch too much television, but, according to that standard, a rock is superior to us in every facet.
A stone will never hurt, never steal, never lie,
Never will it curse you, or ever leave your side.
But a stone will never love, never smile, never give,
And never will it praise you, for it will never live.
Be better than a stone.