Why Is It So Hard to Become a Better Person?
Thirteen reasons on Rosh Hashanah.


Dennis Prager

6. We think we will be taken advantage of.

Many parents have told me that they fear raising their children to be “too” good, lest they be taken advantage of.

People confuse goodness with weakness. It is weak people, not good people (goodness demands strength), who are taken advantage of.

Yes, bad people take advantage of others. This is why it is so important that good people surround themselves with good people. They allow us to be good and they make us better.


7. Few personal models.

It is very difficult to grow into a good person without good models — whether a parent, a sibling, a friend, a clergyman, or even good characters in literature and film.

That is why it is so important for all adults to try to be good models — not necessarily friends — to all young people.

8. We don’t believe that there are rewards for being good.

In general, people do things well if they believe they will eventually be rewarded. That’s the major reason people work hard.

But many people don’t believe that goodness is rewarded.

In fact, however, there are rewards:

Good people have far more inner peace.

You will trust other people. The cheater never trusts anyone because he thinks that everyone is like him — out to cheat everyone. Not being able to trust is not a pleasant way to go through life.

People will like — and even more important, respect — you more, just as you like and respect good people more.

You will make more friends. And life is incomparably better with good friends.

And, finally, God will reward you in the afterlife. It isn’t fashionable in our hyper-sophisticated and secular age to speak of the afterlife, let alone about ultimate reward and punishment. But if there is a just God, there is ultimate justice.

9. We have to battle our nature.

To be a good person, most of us have to battle our nature. Among many other things, we are naturally pre-occupied with ourselves. Yet, to be good, one has to think constantly about others, and how we are treating them.

For many people, there is an additional battle they have to wage — with their natural tendency to be angry. One prevalent example is the angry mother or father who poisons his or her children against the other parent after a divorce, thereby often irreparably damaging both the children and the other parent.

10. I’m a victim.

I suspect that more people than ever before, in our society and in many others, walk around thinking of themselves as victims. Victimhood status is actually cultivated.

Now, the truth is that most people are victims. Very few of us have been entirely fairly treated by life. The problem, however, is that people who see themselves primarily as victims will rarely do any good, and many will do evil: “I’ve been mistreated by others,” the thinking goes, “so I don’t owe anybody anything.”


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