“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.” Louisa May Alcott, Little Men
To Louisa May Alcott, general goodness is the most important possession. Kind people express their soul, and they continue to possess goodness for the rest of their lives; the soul is also the base of life, it determines the type of person one is. Alcott compares goodness to capital and life to business, capital being the base of business and what fuels the business to continue operating. When all of one’s material possessions are lost, we can still have the capital of general goodness that will not be taken away. Then, general goodness will never be lost and people can recover.
I completely agree with Louisa May Alcott, that what is on the inside is more important than the physical things you own. The rich buy expensive cars and several houses as a status symbol, but if they do not have a good heart, none of the luxuries matter. Someone who is not rich and lives a humble life can be superior to the rich because the foundation of their life is based on the goodness of their heart. Those who are selfish, who are cruel, avaricious or merciless, even remorseless: they cannot do anything but try and impress, while someone with a good heart will flourish in the business of life.
In the fable "The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde, a young swallow learns to give unconditionally, and changes people's lives. The swallow alights on a statue named the Happy Prince who is decorated with all kinds of jewels and gold. The Prince, though a statue, has the ability to communicate, and convinces the swallow to aid him in sending his jewels to the poor in the city. Over a few months the swallow delivers all of the Prince's jewels. The swallow's heart slowly changes and he becomes great friends with the Prince. The swallow has changed, but the officials in the town have not. The mayor and his advisors look at the Happy Prince stripped of its jewels and decide to scrap it. The townspeople only value the Prince's jewels that decorate him. The townspeople, being so focused on the valuable jewels, disregarded the poor and pay no attention to them. The poor who have been helped by the Prince and the swallow have learned something they will never forget and they will continue to carry it on with them if they become rich. At the end of the story the Happy Prince and the swallow die and go to Heaven; their hearts have not changed and they continue to be selfless. The prince's leaden heart will not burn and the workmen throw it away. God wants "two most precious things in the city," and the angel brings the Prince’s leaden heart and the swallow’s body to him. God is happy with the angel's choice and lets them rest in heaven. "You have rightly chosen," said God, "for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me."
A good heart is the support for, and the most important part of, a person. Possessions can be lost then replaced, while the heart cannot be replaced. After the prince and the swallow died, there was no one else in the city that was as selfless as them. Once they were gone no one else in the city could replace their kindness. This idea is demonstrated in a short story by Eudora Welty, which also proves that genuine goodness is the base of life.
In “The Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, an old African-American woman walks long distances in order to get her grandson medicine. She struggles to walk along an ancient Indian path called the Natchez Trace, and because of her old age she experiences hallucinations. This lady is very old; she was born before blacks had right to education and was born into captivity as a slave, yet she still walks every month to Natchez, Mississippi, from her home deep in the woods, to fetch this medicine. When Phoenix finally arrives at the town she is greeted by the sight of Christmas lights and people carrying presents in their arms. “There were red and green electric lights strung and crisscrossed everywhere, and all turned on in the daytime.” She makes her way to the hospital where she asks a woman to help her tie her shoes.
“A lady came along in the crowd, carrying an armful of red, green, and silver-wrapped presents; she gave off perfume like the red roses in hot summer, and Phoenix stopped her.
‘Please, missy, will you lace up my shoe?’ She held up her foot.
‘What do you want, Grandma?’
‘See my shoe,’ said Phoenix. ‘Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn’t look right to go in a big building.’
‘Stand still then, Grandma,’ said the lady. She put her packages down on the sidewalk beside her and laced and tied both shoes tightly.
‘Can’t lace ’em with a cane,’ said Phoenix. ‘Thank you, missy. I doesn’t mind asking a nice lady to tie up my shoe, when I gets out on the street.’”
Phoenix enters a clinic and is asked for her name. Phoenix does not respond and the attendant speaks louder. It is hard to speak to Phoenix because of her old age – she must be in her 80s. The nurse comes in and defends “Aunt” Phoenix telling the attendant about her situation – and then administers the “soothing-medicine” – her grandson swallowed lye several years back.
“‘My little grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up, waiting by himself,’ Phoenix went on. ‘We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don’t seem to put him back at all. He got a sweet look. He going to last. He wear a little patch-quilt and peep out, holding his mouth open like a little bird. I remembers so plain now. I not going to forget him again, no, the whole enduring time. I could tell him from all the others in creation.'”
As she departs, she is treated in a different manner.
“‘It’s Christmas time, Grandma,” said the attendant. ‘Could I give you a few pennies out of my purse?’…she stared at her palm closely, with her head on one side.Then she gave a tap with her cane on the floor. ‘This is what come to me to do,’ she said. ‘I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world. I’ll march myself back where he waiting, holding it straight up in this hand.’
She lifted her free hand, gave a little nod, turned around, and walked out of the doctor’s office.”
The woman speaks louder and she gets no response. It is hard to speak to Phoenix because of her old age. The nurse comes in and defends Aunt Phoenix telling the attendant about her situations. People learning about Phoenix’s hardship may inspire then to help her out. Phoenix is able to affect others with her heart. True kindness is shown through dedication.
Simple genuine goodness is the foundation of a person. It controls the person’s decisions and can never be lost. One’s physical possessions can be lost and be recovered or replaced. The good heart can never be lost, yet it is hard to gain a good heart if one’s is crooked. Goodness could be said to be the most important body part of a person, and is a gift that changes others. Even now, people with genuine goodness influence people around them. Buddha gathered thousands of followers to try and end suffering in the world; Martin Luther King Jr. gave speeches to thousands of people on tolerance and freedom. People continue to change the world with their hearts today.