When I Do Good….

A few nights ago, I watched a PBS special about the life, trials, and tribulations of the late Dalton Trumbo – author and Hollywood screenwriter in the post WWII years – the time of a particularly shameful episode in the history of this country known as the “blacklist.” It was riveting – and heart breaking.

Trumbo was one of a number of writers who were deprived of their livelihoods, reputations and even their freedom, for simply maintaining their constitutional right to refuse to bear witness against each other in front of a contemptible assemblage known as the House Committee on “Un-American” Activities.

Fear can make people (potentially, any one of us) do really bad stuff – in this case causing some of their colleagues to disown and testify against them, and (of course) our elected officials to let us all down (again).

When he could find a gig, to support his family, Trumbo wrote scripts for some very successful films (one even won an Oscar for his work) under assumed names.

The most uplifting and inspirational part of the program – the “teachable moment” – came near the end.

In 1958, the actor Kirk Douglas, disgusted with the situation, hired Trumbo to write the screenplay for Spartacus, and when the hugely successful film was released in 1960, he courageously put Trumbo’s real name on it. This act was key in breaking the blacklist.

Douglas in an interview during his 90’s, was asked, in looking back on his life, what moments and accomplishments he was proudest of. Without hesitation he answered “hiring Dalton Trumbo for Spartacus, and putting his name on it.”

Wow! So here’s this actor, Kirk Douglas, successful career-wise (in his craft as an actor),also financially, acclaimed by his peers (doubtlessly with a room full of statues, plaques and awards) – and what is he proudest of when he looks back over his 90 something years?

For doing the right thing. For an act of courage – of love – of integrity. Something any one of us can do.

I’d be willing to bet that if and when we are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to reflect back on our own lives, we too would draw a similar conclusion to what we are proudest of.

Well, you know what? Actually, we do have that opportunity to reflect on whether our past and current actions are in alignment with our deepest values, and the when is right now. The consequences from our current actions begin immediately.

“When I do good, I feel good.
When I do bad, I feel bad.
That’s my religion.”
Abraham Lincoln

Be kind to yourself,


About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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