Good Will and Bad Faith

Good will is a core concept. The idea is that everyone is flawed, some lose perspective or never gain it, some lose their temper when they shouldn’t, some are too anxious to please or to cut corners if that’s what it takes to prevail, some are too often thoughtless about how they behave hurts others. But in my experience the vast majority of people have a basic sense of good will; they have an innate sense of decency. It’s more than disturbing to see that ethos, that basic unwritten compact that holds society together, systematically assaulted by issuers of false and malicious rhetoric. Mean-spiritedness and bad faith are ascendant. They are directing the course of events. To borrow the title of the last book of the late journalist Tony Judt, “Ill Fares the Land.” We have to hope that, like the pandemic, this distressing phase of history will pass.