Goodness, spirituality, and morality. Since you are reading this at The Wisdom Daily, you are probably positively pre-disposed to all three. We all know of course, that you can have too much of a good thing, so why not too much of a cherished positive value?
Maybe it’s that I am tired of the seemingly endless fights between those – and they are in the news every day, including pundits currently debating last weekend’s Santa Barbara mass killing – who reduce almost every issue to good vs. evil, moral vs. immoral, etc. and those who seem uncomfortable with using those terms at all. That, or I am simply feeling a bit like Goldilocks, and wondering how we can tell when we are crossing the line from “just right” to “too much”.
For starters, I don’t think the answers will be same for everybody, nor do I think that they will be exactly the same for goodness, spirituality and morality. In fact, even for a specific person, thinking about a single value, the answer may be different from situation to situation. That is actually one of the signs for which we can all be on the lookout – signs which suggest that we may have crossed over to too much of a good thing.
Fixed and absolute understandings of even the best values are almost always a sign that we are going too far with a good thing. I am all for well-defined and commitment-compelling understandings of goodness, spirituality and morality, but we can be sure that when we come to think of ours as the only possible definitions of those terms, we are being too much of them.
We are also at least flirting with being too good, too spiritual or too moral when we cut ourselves off from others in order to sustain our commitments to any of those three. At the very least, it pays to acknowledge that even when we need to cut others off to sustain ourselves, which can happen in all of our lives, we are certainly losing something precious to gain whatever it is we seek.
Finally, I think it pays to watch the extent to which we fail to enjoy the things we can in life – and I include here the physical things, the laughs, the “shallow” good times and great meals, the “silly” movies, and almost sinful indulgences which make life fun. Of course, that list will be different depending upon your cultural, philosophical or religious leanings, but if you find yourself always saying “no”, as your preferred path to goodness, spirituality and morality, you may well be “too good”, “too spiritual” or “too moral”.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.