Cultivating Hope

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I really enjoyed the Netflix series, The Good Place. It follows the story of four characters who enter the afterlife and undergo a series of adventures together: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason. It is funny, silly and smart, providing the perfect combination for a great comedy. Although full of laughs, it also has a reflective undertone, commenting on how hard it is to truly be a “good” human being in our current world, even with the best of intentions.

“Life now is so complicated, it’s impossible for anyone to be good enough for the Good Place,” Michael explains to the Judge (Maya Rudolph), the overseer of the afterlife. “These days, just buying a tomato at a grocery store means that you are unwittingly supporting toxic pesticides, exploiting labor, contributing to global warming. Humans think that they’re making one choice, but they’re actually making dozens of choices they don’t even know they’re making!”

According to Roger Gottlieb, a philosophy professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, these dilemmas are unavoidable: “Morally, we are caught in a system we did not design, faced with unpleasant choices we would rather skip over, torn between wanting a little more ease and a nagging conscience that suggests that such ease is not worth the moral cost, and sometimes compelled to choose what we would think is the least bad of two distressing alternatives.”

Although somewhat demoralizing, the reality is that we can only just keep doing our best: moment by moment, day by day. As Glennon Doyle advises in her book, Love Warrior: “Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time. That’ll take you all the way home.” I cannot share a lot more about this tv series without giving too much away. All I can say is that it is definitely worth watching. It will make you laugh, reflect, and cry; and the ending is one of the best that I have ever seen. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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