Am I a Good Person?

 

“Have you thought of ex-boyfriend on your wedding day?”

“Have you taken out your wedding ring to pretend to be a single?”

“Have you slept with someone other than your spouse?"

 

The Moment of Truth is an American reality TV show in which participants get more prize if they tell the truth. By equipping lie-detectors to the participants, the answers are decided to be true or not. The credibility of the lie-detector is, of course, questionable, but as the participants want the prize, they tend to give answers close to the truth, which makes the whole thing hard to be called a total fraud.

One female participant who already secured 1,000,000 dollars was facing the moment of choice. If she answered an extra question, she could earn 2,000,000 dollars. Watching all of her answers, her husband was already devastated, and even her mother and father was full of disappointment. No turning back. Maybe more money could be her redemption. Or she could start all over with the money. Instead of her vulnerable lies that sustain her mundane days, selfish yet unburdening truth.

“Are you a good person?”

That was it. After a few viciously cruel questions, beyond the expectation of everyone who assume more dramatic question, the question was “Are you a good person?” Everyone in the set would have probably had the same thoughts. Her husband, her parents, audiences filling up the whole set, numerous TV viewers, and even me. “You are a bad person.”

“Yes. I am. I believe I am a good person.”

That was her answer with her eyes filled with tears.

On the way back to home. The video clip clicked just to kill the time. The husband seen between whiles in the clip looked so pathetic. As I am also the husband of someone, the participant telling the truth shamelessly looked so contemptible. Just tell lies.  Viewers’ comments about the clip were no different from mine. People condemned her with all kinds of reckless swearing.

But the moment I heard her answer, her words spoken honorably, instead of her face being blushed, “I am a good person.” Made me numb for a while.

“You are so bad, you are the worst. I hope you die.”

“You are so good. I wish you well and happy.”

Before marriage, I mean quite a long time ago, I became a bad guy in the world, and somehow I became a good guy at the moments of an unavoidable break-up after a few relationships. The more we remind the past, the more our memories become blurred. What made me a good person. What made me a bad one. Still, I have no clue. But, one thing. I guess I just wanted to be happy.

There is morality at the bass in which we could judge the good and the evil. A long time ago, when people rely on God for everything, religious beliefs defined everything. Depending on which side – left or right – a rock fell, somebody became a good person or a bad person. According to the evolutionary psychology of good and evil by Paul Bloom, his religious morality has developed over and over along with the development of science and philosophy. The traditional concept of good and evil was modified by a nameless philosopher’s assertion, once again by a nameless scientist’s claim, by this and that or who and whom. Show me someone who is against that the standard of distinguishing good and evil has changed following the course of time.

The problem is that, no matter how we closely look at a thick book that compiles the concept of good and evil, we still cannot know.

“Am I a good person?” What made me do that? Why did eleven-year-old me steal a chocolate bar, even when I was not hungry or poor? In the summer night, why did I spend a night with a girl who was not my lover? Why can’t I truly feel happy for my best friend’s success and yet feel nameless relief in someone’s misery? Why I still vaguely believe that I am a good person like her in that reality TV show?

“This is not true.”

Unlike her answer, the lie-detector believed the other way. More precisely, her thoughts deep inside somewhere in her mind that the device read was crying out “I am a bad person.”

It was an unfair question from the beginning. It was like kicking was allowed in a boxing game, and like taking out a gun in a fencing game. The question based on the fact encroaches the area of value judgment. Maybe it was the sneaky trick of a broadcasting company that did not want to give the money away so easily. The ambiguous question with no harm, whether it is true or not.

There was nothing left for her. No 1,000,000 dollars and no faith between her husband. Only one thing was left. The truth that I am still a good person, with her tears. The truth that nobody takes real, even the device ignored. However, I don’t know but her answer sounded true to me. And I even added arbitrary excuses to her short answers that she had to give automatically to every question.

“Yes. I did it. I remembered my ex on my wedding day. Not that there were some unresolved feelings, not that I did like my husband, but I thought that one my most beautiful day I could invite anyone even in my mind for a moment.”

“Yes. It was too rainy and lonely night. I don’t know why it was that night and that place. I did sleep with him/her?? It wasn’t that good but was not bad at all. I knew it was not right but I needed to be happy.”

To her who kept saying, “yes, I have,” reminding days after days and eliminating every narrative related to the things, the question was not just moment of truth, but it was a moment of everything.

The existence so-called "I". How many excuses are necessary to justify that existence? How many proves are needed to define oneself as a bad person or a good person? It is unbearably easy to judge others by the norms set by the current era and its values. Just a few questions -nothing more, nothing less. But for me, I mean, judging myself on my own. Should I exist, or be extinct? Should I condemn myself or forgive myself? That insignificant judgment should be made in more secretive and private ways. It is my own defense for my own trial.

Even an unmarried actress loving a married director, even someone who betrayed friends for success, even me, and you have to come up with hundreds, thousands of excuses for that truth that I am a good person.

No matter what, we are constantly being judged. A bad wife, a good husband, a competent boss, an immoral actress, a talented director, a cold-hearted judge. A good person to someone, a bad person to others. A good person one day, and a bad one on another day. However, for the sake of myself torn apart, the belief that I hope to keep to myself however selfish or pitiful it may be. I would be the one and only believer of my truth and myself. 

Yes. I believe I am a good person

장원준

장원준 1984년 생이다. 서강대학교(Sogang UNIV.)를 졸업했다. 제일기획(Cheil) 7년차 카피라이터, 브랜드 플래너( Brand Experience Planner). 깐느 국제 광고제 (Cannes Lions), 아시아태평양 광고제(Spikes Asia), 부산국제광고제(ADSTARS), 대한민국 광고대상(KOREA AD Award) 등을 수상했다. 책보다 영화, 글자보다 그림, 편지보다 수다, 글보다 썰이 좋은 Writer.

Won Jun Jang

Won Jun Jang was born in 1984 and graduated from Sogang University. He is on his 7th year working as a copywriter and a brand experience planner at Cheil Worldwide. He has won the awards at Cannes Lions, Asia Pacific , Busan International Advertising (ADSTARS) and KOREA AD Award. He is a writer who prefers books to movies, paintings to texts, chatting to letters, and stories to writing.

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