Let's be honest here fellas. Are you a hero or a villain in this thing we call life? Do you generally commit acts that are not so nice in order to benefit yourself (no problem lying, cheating, sometimes hurting others if you can get away with it), or do you genuinely care about other people's welfare and do the right thing when its your turn to act in a situation? Or would you consider yourself more of a grey area person?
I think that it is important that a man knows firmly where he stands on matters of goodness and evilness in this world...
Most men are neither in this world. They are a hero when it comes to risking their life to save a little kid or attractive woman from an oncoming car, but fat, mean, old Mrs. Wilkerson? Not so much. They won't cheat on their taxes but will at cards.
It's also worth remembering that their are studies that suggest people who consider themselves to be more virtuous are more likely to lie and cheat.
I might be so bold as to say that those you point to are NOT MEN. Those boys only do things when they benefit, men do what is right even though it may not be convenient.
I have a problem with "do the right thing when its your turn to act." I may say if you witness or are even aware of a situation, as a man it is your responsibility to do what is right regardless of whose turn it is. It seems to me that is an almost impossible standard these days.
Every wicked man is right in his own eyes, and most heroes just think they're doing the best that they can. Good or bad isn't a question of heroism, for very few of us have opportunity for resounding deeds. It's your impact on the world around you that determines good or evil. But, by and large, if you can with frankness look back and appraise yourself on what you've done, and how you've effected the lives of those around you, you'll know what side of the fence you stand on.
"How am I to know the good from the bad?"
"You will know, when you are calm, at peace, passive," -Yoda
While I consider myself a good guy and honestly do strive to be fair, kind, and compassionate with others, we all have our moments of weakness. No one is superman or even close to perfect, so there is grey area we must navigate from day to day. That said, I think the mere fact that we strive to be "good guys" and better people, unless we're involved in something overtly wrong such as child or animal abuse, or deliberate criminal activity, puts us in that category.
Good question. I imagine Hitler thought he was doing the right thing, so it's not an easy thing to be objective about.
I don't hurt others intentionally. I try to be honest and fair, and kind when I can be. It really bothers me when I realize I've done something that harmed someone. I do try to see myself as others see me, which though impossible isn't a bad thing to try to do. I try to remember that "character is what you do when you don't think anyone can see you." I try to say only things that I would say to anyone, in public, so if something I said were to get to the wrong person, it would be something I could stand behind.
Most of the times I can think of when I did something that really hurt someone it was because I was misinformed in some way. It wasn't really greed or selfishness on my part, at least not intentionally; but I didn't see other options I had, or how my actions would really affect others.
I wouldn't call myself a hero by any stretch of the term, and oddly enough I imagine the people I consider heroes wouldn't consider themselves that either. I consider myself a man who tries to do the right thing, and tries to keep and gain enough perspective to be right more often than wrong. It's a constant struggle, but really, what else are we supposed to be doing with our lives?
I am a good man. I am a bad man. I am neither. I am both.
It all comes down to perspective.
Moreover, it comes down to reasons. If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, does it make you a good guy? And vice versa.
All we can do is try to follow a moral compass, never needlessly causing harm to our fellow men.
Am I in a confessional?
I'm no angel.
This doesn't require a degree in philosophy, or any self justification....
Unless you're a sociopath, you know right from wrong.
Often, doing the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing. Many people are just lazy.
Remember this? "Character is how you behave when no one is looking".
The Golden Rule; in all things, treat everyone as you would want to be treated.
So, just do the right thing.
Very true, all of it.
It is, however, pretty easy for people to let themselves think they have no choice but to do the wrong thing; even when they do know right from wrong. They're almost always sorry, and right away, but then the rationalizations kick in. That's the thing I always try to watch out for in myself. "Am I just making excuses for myself? When have I really, truly, not had a choice?" The answer is usually "Never." You always have a choice, at least to some degree. The hard part is to make sure you're not letting yourself be lazy, as you put it.