So another of my guilty secret tv shows that I love to watch is Dog, the Bounty Hunter on A&E. His combination of compassion, machismo, religion, and posing is just fascinating.

For those of you not acquainted with this series, Dog the bounty hunter works in Hawaii. He used to be a bad boy, reformed, and now he and his extended family operate a bail bonds/bounty hunter business.

In the last episode I saw, a Samoan woman who herself is a reformed convict turned bounty hunter said something like “Dog and Beth (dog’s wife) keep me strong. He told me “if you just start out by pretending to be good, sooner or later you end up being good.”

It really resonated with me. I often feel like I’m playing at goodness. Ever since Earlham college, I’ve felt like I do volunteer stuff or donate money or time because I should, not because I am truly good. Often the people around me seem to me to BE truly good (like my bosses at LEN institute)when I am just pretending. I am selfish and often callous. On a daily basis or even in the space of ten minutes I can vacillate between an attitude of “people deserve the results of their own bad choices” to “we need to help people despite their bad choices.” As a christian I’m supposed to be doing the latter.

Yet, ever since I went to Nicaragua back in college and saw with my own eyes families lives’ decimated by U.S. policies and guns, as well as saw what a third world country meant to the lives of children living in it, I think deep down in my heart, it is a sense of guilt that drives me. I have to somehow make up for my privileges and wealth. As if some cosmic judge was hanging over my shoulder saying “okay, just 30,000 more hours of service and you’ve canceled out your bourgeoise childhood!”

So my question is, does it “count” if you are just pretending? If I keep on pretending, will I ever be “good”? Is it bad to do things out of guilt instead of some altruistic feeling?