The NBC series ‘The Good Place’ ended this week. While I won’t give any spoilers for the finale, the show through the years did engage with many different concepts, including the philosophy of doing the right thing, the idea of learning through repetitions, and the concepts surrounding eternity.
I enjoyed the show through its creative and surprising developments. It always made me think about my own motivations in life for doing “the right thing.” As a little kid, I was definitely in the ‘posed to’ camp – I “chose the right” because that’s what I was “sup’posed to’ do.” As I grew up, my choices were often based on the fact that I wanted to get into heaven – the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. To be even more revealing, as a puberty-afflicted adolescent, the idea of only being able to have sex in the highest level of the celestial kingdom certainly was a motivating factor. My sunday school teachers’ (yes, multiple teachers through the years) teaching of the resultant eternal pregnancy did not seem to thrill the girls in the class as much.
While thinking about it as an adult, my motivations are a complex combination of many different things. Self-interest has always been a portion of it, and the other factors weigh in differently based on the context of the situation. What is the greatest good? What is the best course of action for me? What am I (divinely) supposed to do? These questions are used to great comedic effect with the show’s most Hamlet-esque character.
Moroni 7:8 mentions that if an individual gives a gift grudgingly, it’s the same as if he didn’t give it at all. While I definitely feel that it’s an inherently better thing to do the right thing and give to others willingly, I have almost NEVER wanted to help someone else move, and I fully admit to grudgingly giving that service in the ward. (Although I usually am glad that I did afterwards.) I don’t know if I agree with the end of the scripture – that that person is counted evil before God. I’d rather have individuals do the right thing even just because they are supposed to, rather than not doing it at all because it wouldn’t count in the grand system of “heaven points.” If everybody waited to have the best of motivations and the best of attitudes to do things or give gifts of service for things they absolutely do not want to do, I think most of it wouldn’t ever really get done.
- Have you ever seriously thought about your motivations for “doing the right thing”?
- Have you ever thought about when you’ve fit into the many different motivational categories?
- How much of a difference is it if one “gives a gift grudgingly”? Does God tally up “points” or similar in this context?
- How does one learn to not give certain gifts grudgingly? (I don’t think I will ever rid my dislike of and general unwillingness to helping others move – but I do it because they need help.)
- Please note: Any discussions of The Good Place should be generally spoiler free.