Do Good or Don’t Do Bad – Does it Matter?

“When I do good, I feel good, when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.”                             – Abraham Lincoln

First – “Nothing is wrong”, everything is fine.  At least I can assume that because you are reading this.  Besides, as noted,  Prevention can’t work and Problems are Irrelevant – if improvement is desired. Of course saying nothing is wrong, this is our reality, does not mean things are good – they are just not bad enough. We could however be jumping from crises to crises.  If we want things to be better, there is only 1 option, make it better – or don’t.

As William Shakespeare declared (see previous post: We Choose Why Things Happen)

Things are not bad or good, thinking makes it so

What is the goal, to maximize social benefits or create behavior change? Choices of behaviors must be measured against benefits of taking alternative behavior choices. Reduction in speed limit is related to less accidents but behavior adaptation often nullifies benefits.

In Germany, when a highway went from no speed to a speed limit, people took alternative routes. While the highway had less accidents, the alternative routes they chose instead had more accidents.  The overall outcome therefore was a wash. People preferred increased mobility, ability to drive faster, than to travel more safely. People therefore were motivated to maximize benefit, not minimize problems.

In a Bill Burr comedy special (showing on Netflix), “I’m Sorry you Feel That Way” he explains why sometimes we go off the rails – that is make a poor choice. During a section he is discussing religion and death. He then discusses the differing beliefs about what happens after death. At one point he says,

…This might be the most arrogant thing I say all night but I actually resent the fact that I’m gonna get judged someday – like if thats true. That somebody’s gonna judge me that doesn’t even make any sense, like dude you made me – this is your F*** Up!…You give me freedom of choice, whores, you make me suck at math and you don’t think this thing is going to go off the rails? Like you set me up to fail and now you have the balls to now question your own F**ing work…            – Bill Burr, comedian

Isn’t this life?  We go off the rails because we are human and want to maximize benefits.  There are many influences in life. Sometimes we learn the hard way. Our aim however needs to be more than just “to get back on the rails” – the state quo.  We must aim for a better way to move forward. If we just get back on the rail we are returning to life as it was, not better. We must generate a better way to move forward.
As the Indian Proverb relates:

When you shoot an arrow for distance, aim high not on the level, for even if it does not go the distance you desired, it will go much farther than it would have if you had shot it on the level.

Life is interesting or irritating – that is our choice.  If we want better, we must create a new reality.  We can’t just fix problems because that means we are back to where we were while fixing a never ending list of problems by running crisis to crisis without ever making it better.  These actions therefore make the start quo our highest possible outcome, our ceiling. Why? Why not set for an Idealized Outcome?

This means if Do Good or Don’t Do Bad – Does Matter?  There are multiple implications.  Doing something, doing anything causes everything else to change.  Not doing something is something in the future so this leaves us at the whims of all else that happens.

Technically this is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  Things move toward chaos, entropy unless we create more order.  I highlight this is the comparison of pathogenesis and salutogenesis.  This concept is also explained by The Royal Institution which ends by explaining,

We can take comfort from the fact that we can continue to create things and draw local order from the chaos for a long time to come…

An example is how many are finally realizing the benefits to people, animals and the planet that come from eating a whole plant based foods.  Animal agriculture is bad for people, animals and our environment and consuming whole plant based foods is good for our health.  This is an example where doing something, eating whole plant based foods is much better than simply avoiding animal derived foods. Actually just avoiding animal foods doesn’t make us stronger because we must eat what we should eat – plant based foods.  I was reminded of the power of foods tonight when I saw, “Eating You Alive“.

One can avoid animal based foods and just eat processed foods and this is likely even worse.  The way to better health for people and the planet is to eat more whole plant based foods – so doing good is more effective than not doing bad.

In a related conversation between legendary organizational behaviorists, Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Dr. Russell Ackoff, they pointed out the importance not just doing the wrong things better, but actually doing the right things to improve:

The distinguished systems theorist Russ Ackoff describes the trap as ‘doing the wrong thing righter’. ‘The righter we do the wrong thing,’ he explains, ‘the wronger we become. When we make a mistake doing the wrong thing and correct it, we become wronger. When we make a mistake doing the right thing and correct it, we become righter. Therefore, it is better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right.’ Most of our current problems are, he says, the result of policymakers and managers busting a gut to do the wrong thing right.

All of this relates to how what we do impacts everything else or systems appreciation.  As noted, it is suggested we focus on doing all good by generating comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits or the Practice of Paneuegenesis. I encourage you to engage in the practice so you can “Make it a Great Week!

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

Contact me at:


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