Can we really be good people anymore?
Think of the last thing that you bought. What was it? Where did you buy it? What are the values of the place you bought it from? What went into making that product at every step of the way? How did its manufacturing affect others?
Don't know what you are unwittingly supporting by buying that thing in your hand? Yeah, most people don't.
This eye-opening thought experiment was a huge plot twist in the show, "The Good Place," and it rings a little too true.
"The Good Place" is a show that follows a seemingly mediocre person, Eleanor Shelstrop, in the afterlife where she accidentally ends up in the "Good Place" intended for only the "cream of the crop."
She finds out the placement of the deceased in the afterlife relies solely on the accumulation of points (negative or positive) that result from every action that a person does on Earth.
In a series of plot twists, Eleanor and her group of seemingly "perfect" mates find out that they are really in the"Bad Place" and spend the rest of the seasons fighting to figure out why and how they can escape it.
The conclusion that is understood by the "judge of the universe" is that "life now is so complicated it's impossible for anyone to be good enough for the Good Place."
Each choice a person makes has hundreds of unintended consequences. "These days, just buying a tomato at a grocery store means that you are unwittingly supporting toxic pesticides, exploiting labor, contributing to global warming," according to the show.
So are we expected to try to analyze every choice, "Do the research and buy another tomato"?
Obviously, we can't fret over every little decision that we make, but we can be conscious of the direct ones that have bigger social impacts.
For example, buying a pack of gum from Walmart in a hurry because it's five miles closer than any other convenience store isn't the end of the world, but we should still try to be socially conscious of where our money is going.
You probably already do this anyway. For instance, most of us avoid supporting Chris Brown's music because of his history of domestic abuse. We do not have control over every consequence of our decisions, but it is up to us to try to minimize them the best we can.
Another one of the most important takeaways of this lesson as explained in "The Good Place" is that where we spend our money shouldn't necessarily determine who we are as people. After all, it is almost impossible to escape any negative consequences in the consumer marketplace.
The show did portray what a life spent overthinking every decision and being as passive as possible would look like, and it turns out that wouldn't get you into the "Good Place" either.
The world isn't going to get any less complicated, and neither are the decisions that it requires of us. The key lesson is just to try, because it is the intent of our actions that reflect our character often far more than the consequences themselves.
Reem Atharithi is a junior at West Linn High School.
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