I am a latecomer to the watching of the Netflix show, “The Good Place.” Please don’t spoil the end of Season 1 or Season 2. I am really only at the beginning. With that being said, the show questions and interprets the existence of the afterlife. What does it look like in the world to come? How do you get there? Do your actions in life matter in relationship to what’s next? Without getting into Jewish accounts of the afterlife, I am most interested in the idea of being a just “ok” person.
The main character, Eleanor, is troubled that the world to come is divided into two categories: A Good Place and A Bad Place. Repeatedly, she wonders why there can’t just be a place for medium people. People who do so-so. People who aren’t really righteous and people who shouldn’t be classified as evil.
But it seems problematic to me to envision living in this world, justifying complacency, silence, stagnation and ignorance as the lifestyle of an average person. That being “not awful” is somewhat complimentary.
Should we not want more for ourselves? That even if, we lead average lives, we should breathe every day striving to do and be more?
In the story of Joseph and his brothers plotting his murder, Judah is quoted, “What profit is there in killing our brother and covering his blood?” Sanhedrin explains, “Rabbi Meir said: ‘Anyone who blesses Judah…rebuffs the Lord; and in this regard it is written (Psalms 10:3); ‘And he who blesses the compromiser rebuffs the Lord.’” Meaning, Judah is usually seen as the “good” brother. The brother who wasn’t a murderer and convinced his brothers to throw Joseph in the pit. Not a great act, but not the worst.
The Talmud is cautioning humanity: do you want to be classified as “not great, but not the worst?”
How will you spend your days? Striving for a medium existence or seeking to live a life of blessing and impact?
Life isn’t black or white, but I refuse to get comfortable in the shades of a so-so reality.