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Thursday 28th January 2021 @ 10:56 am

Part of my life at the start of 2021 is a desire to write materials that will be of use to us at The Good Summit. I am even considering trying to write another book, of sorts. Here is the introduction – I suspect if it ever gets published it won’t look like this, but you’ll get the gist anyway.




I believe the world can be better.

I believe it can be more good.

I am the least to write a book about being good.


All of the above statements are true. How on earth do I hold them together.


Freud would have a field day with me and my attempts to reconcile everything wrong I have ever done – things which mostly fall into the category of hurtful actions and words – into something meaningful.

Making meaning from pain is a deep human reaction to trial and tribulation though.

It’s OK.

Or at least I’ll tell myself that.


I have never been in jail and to the best of my knowledge have never done anything that would mean I should be in jail – save stealing some mandarin oranges from a local grocery shop when I was a child.

But I have been the cause of hurt to people.


I can’t even begin to write the next paragraph, without reminding you that you have also hurt people.

(The shame is building already and I haven’t even considered examples to share!)


See what I did there?

I traveled from rational intelligent thought to an honest vulnerable confession and straightaway side–stepped into a defense position.

Man, that was quick.


“I think we can do better …

I am the last person to tell you how to behave …

because I have caused people pain …



Our internal defense mechanisms are multitudinous, varied, exceptionally skilled and mostly unknown.

Natural – innate.

And that’s OK. I like that. I appreciate that I have an internal mechanism deep within my genetic memory from the time my earliest ancestors were walking along an African plane and happened upon a saber–tooth tiger.

(Did they have saber–tooth tigers in Africa 100 000 years ago? I have no idea, but I like tigers, and the word saber–tooth is cool.[1])

I appreciate those internal mechanisms that yell at me when I am walking too close to the edge on a seacliff – they also yell at me, although much more unsuccessfully, when I am on a metaphorical cliff edge where I deem to tread, maybe too often.


I just did it again.


I became a little vulnerable,

‘I sometimes walk close to the edge in conversation’

(maybe becoming bitchy or sanctimonious or patronizing or uncaring)

and immediately side–stepped into a metaphorical bowed head of ‘maybe too often.’


The shame is beginning to eat me, and I haven’t even started.


‘How dare you tell others how to live?’

‘Remember when you tried this before … yeah, that went well!’

‘Sure what do you know anyway, your doctorate is only a Doctorate of Ministry.’

‘No–one will read what you write anyway – and if they do, they’ll not do anything about it.’

‘YOU are gonna write about positive human relationships?!?!’

‘I’m not _______ enough’ (clever / vulnerable / disciplined / good)


Hence, I go to Brené.[2] Her writing on the shame gremlins she encourages us to kick away is invaluable. Her work is one of several key influences which over the last two decades bring me to this point.


The point of


ah feck it

give it a go

this stuff matters,


and the more people who do the little they can,

the better.


And so I sit and open a document and begin too write.

with all the audacity of hope a middle–aged Northern Irish white man who has faced no real disasters in life can muster.


In case it’s not obvious, let me make the point abundantly clear.

I am not an expert on Good. I am not Good. I try to do Good and often screw it up. Even the trying can come from a mix of motivations I know nothing about because they are so deeply engrained in my subconscious.

But I am trying.

And I believe you can too.

And I do believe that if we all try – just a bit – to be a little more good, then lives will change, families will change, friendships will change, communities will change, countries will change, and the world will change. For the better.




[1] Update. Checked google. Apparently fossils of the Saber–toothed variety of tiger have only been found in the Americas. So, just re–read the sentence above and put in Wooly Mammoth if it pleases you. Hang on … were there wooly mammoths in Africa …

[2] If you are by any chance one of the people on the planet who is not acquainted with Brené Brown and her important work on whole–hearted living check out her website



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