A while back, I wrote on the Three Marks of Humanity. They were Wisdom, Courage, and Compassion (or Love). These three are keys to being a good man or woman. Amongst gender differences, these are the necessities of being “good”. While it is important to recognize these as keys, it is crucial for them to be in proper balance. To exalt one mark above any other would undermine the whole.
Perhaps the way one should consider the three is by what they influence and interact with each other. The relationship could be described as Knowledge, Action, and Intention respectively. You cannot be a good person without all three in some sense. There is no order of greatness for they intertwine and lead to each other like a perfect equilateral triangle. The intention of love can lead to Action and thirst for Knowledge. Knowledge can lead to Love and Action. Action is necessary to learn and can lead to later Love. All three are separate but together become greatness.
Recently, I’ve picked up watching the TV series Person of Interest. Part of what caught my attention in the series was an underlying tone on what it meant to be a good person. In the series, there are two particular characters that show different views. One looks at his past and believes he can never be a “good person” but still acts to do good deeds. The other looks at his past crimes but at his present as his “opportunity to be good”. The latter is who has it right. It’s not that he does not have any flaws, but that he does not give up trying to do good that makes him a good person. By having this knowledge, he proves not to be subject to future evil deeds, unlike the former.
Everyone has flaws and made mistakes. The challenge is not that always do good things, but that we try to do good things with the right intentions. This leads to the difference between a simple mercenary and a true soldier. Both can fight for a country, but one does it for money while the other to protect his country. When a country’s soldiers become only simple mercenaries, then country will fall. This is hinted in The Godfather Part II when the main character predicts the Communists winning based off their motivations and fighting to the death without getting paid. This is why patriotism is considered an important virtue. When the Three Marks come together, they become the base for all other virtues, the building blocks of a good person.