by Ken Rolheiser
Hamlet, St Paul and Goody Two-Shoes

Did you hear about the guy who reported the Chernobyl incident to the Soviet Government? He was always such a goody three shoes.

Irish author William Goldsmith’s Goody Two-Shoes, a variation of the Cinderella story, is the fable of Margery, an orphan who is missing a shoe for most of the story. When a rich gentleman gives her a second shoe, she goes about shouting, “Two shoes! Two shoes!” 

The reward of virtue was a popular theme in children’s literature at the time, but Margery’s gloating “two shoes, two shoes” made her unbearable to everyone around her. The moral: don’t boast about sudden good fortune or your new shoes.

Now “out of this,” as Hamlet would say, what is the point? We are all called to live a virtuous life, but we don’t want to be a goody two-shoes. In the “get thee to a nunnery” speech Hamlet says, “I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me.” 

Even a virtuous prince has his faults as a human being. You and I are no different. In Roman’s 8:15-17 St Paul say, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do… As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”

At some point in our life experience of virtue and vice we have to decide if we want to be a goody two-shoes or a villain. We know which feels better. It is time we celebrated the fact that we are human. We are people! We are trying to find our place.

In 2019 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) commissioned Twin Flames Jaaji and Chelsey June to produce the official anthem for the year of Indigenous languages. The result was “Human”, a song Canadian school children across the nation sang.

Now “out of this” we find a stirring and powerful assertion of who and what we are. “I am proud of who I am” the song says. “We are, we are, trying to find our place / All the human race.”

“I am human / I am people” the song proclaims. The implications go deeper than the truth and reconciliation theme Twin Flames expressed so powerfully. We all have a Divine spark in us. Faith calls us to a virtuous path.

Some are called to heroic struggles, like the members of Alcoholics Anonymous. This daily call to virtue is only accomplished with the help of God’s special graces.

What about you and me? I was called to focus recently when asked what three words would you say to your seventeen-year-old self? A great answer would be “Marry Linda Bahm”. Certainly, our fifty-four years of married family life make this a great answer.

On deeper reflection other thoughts come to the surface. “You’re doing great.” My seventeen-year-old self needed that reassurance. Or “Trust in the love of Jesus”. I didn’t know God well enough at seventeen.

"Grow closer to God week by week, year by year" would have been sage advice. Goody two shoes doesn’t sound so bad. Filled with faith can help us proclaim: I have a mustard seed, and I’m not afraid to use it!

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