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All "for good"?

[ 2010-12-24 15:02]     字号 [] [] []  
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All Reader question:

Please explain “for good”, as in, “Twitter is a force for good” and “He’s here for good.”

My comments:

These two examples of “for good” are different. They’re not all for the common “good” (not “common good”, which is another matter entirely), as in good and bad.

In the first example, “Twitter is a force for good” is a fixed phrase. Here, “good” means morally right, as in “good and evil”. In talking about Twitter being a force for good, the speaker means to point out the fact that people sharing information quickly and en mass is a good thing, socially progressive that is.

In second example, “He’s here for good”, the phrase to note is “for good” and here it means for ever, or permanently. In other words, he’s here to stay – for a long time and perhaps never to leave again.

Back to “force for good” for one moment. The Internet, in general, is a force for good, you may argue. Information (knowledge) is important. Crucial. With up-to-date (or up-to-the-minute in the case of Twitter) information, an individual is more likely to make the right decisions for himself. Obviously. On a larger scale, instant spread of information helps social stability as it may help curb systematic malpractice. Governments, for example, knowing that the public knows exactly what they’re up to, will think twice before going ahead with any potentially unpopular initiatives. The Nazis, to use a horrible example, would never be able to do the terrible things they did to the Jews in this age, the age of the Internet.

This is why people both here and in the West keep striving for (greater) transparency in government.

That is also why Wikileaks is so popular at the moment.

Popular at the popular level at any rate.

Anyways, I think the world is, by and large, I mean, speaking in broad terms and not to put too fine a point on it better off with Twitter, Wikileaks and the Internet in general.

I means, at least the world will be a better off place if all people know what phrases such as “for good” means.

So then, how does one learn these things, such as a simple and innocuous sounding phrase like “for good”?

Speaking for myself and through experience, I think one picks these things up via reading rather than through the classroom, you know, through asking the teacher to EXPLAIN everything.

I, for example, can’t explain why “he’s here for good” means he’ll be here for ever. I’ve never looked it up in dictionary either, but I somehow have come to know that it’s a common colloquialism that’s been in use for centuries. For instance, I find this example from an old classic, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, in a conversation between Pip and his benefactor, the ex-convict who’s come back from Australia:

“Is there no chance person who might identify you in the street?” said I.

“Well,” he returned, “there ain’t many. Nor yet I don’t intend to advertise myself in the newspapers by the name of A. M. come back from Botany Bay; and years have rolled away, and who’s to gain by it? Still, look’ee here, Pip. If the danger had been fifty times as great, I should ha’ come to see you, mind you, just the same.”

“And how long do you remain?”

“How long?” said he, taking his black pipe from his mouth, and dropping his jaw as he stared at me. “I’m not a-going back. I’ve come for good.”

In short, one learns best from real examples, in passing and via context. Here are two up-to-date examples from the media:

1. The world is deeply divided on the question of whether religion is a force for good, a survey by Ipsos Reid suggests.

The pollster found that 48 per cent of the more than 18,000 people it reached online in 23 countries agreed that “religion provides the common values and ethical foundations that diverse societies need to thrive in the 21st century.”

A bare majority — 52 per cent — thought otherwise. They agreed with the sentiment that “religious beliefs promote intolerance, exacerbate ethnic divisions and impede social progress.”

There was wide regional variation in the results. Respondents in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, where there are large Muslim populations, overwhelmingly said they believed religion was a force for good, while respondents in European countries tended to disagree with that.

About two-thirds of Americans polled thought religion was a force for good, but only 36 per cent of Canadians thought the same.

- Poll underlines sharp divide on religion, CBC News, November 26, 2010.

2. The Dallas Mavericks are plotting an aggressive push to acquire Carmelo Anthony, even if they don’t get assurances that the three-time All-Star would agree to a contract extension as part of the trade, league sources told CBSSports.com.

Despite his team’s emergence as one of the powers of the Western Conference -- and, as Dallas proved Monday night in Miami, the whole league -- owner Mark Cuban is said to be not only willing to take a chance on Anthony, but eager to steal him from the Nets, who are owned by his billionaire rival, Mikhail Prokhorov. In a deal that would provide Denver with little more than future savings, the Mavs are planning what one rival executive described as a “hard” push...

Another team that various team executives believe is very much in the mix -- either to make a push to land Melo as a rental or become involved as a third-team facilitator -- is the Rockets. Houston fully expects to receive a disabled-player exception for Yao Ming totaling $5.8 million and already has a $6.3 million exception from the Trevor Ariza trade. Such exceptions can’t be combined, but individually they could be used to absorb a contract -- such as, for example, the Nuggets’ J.R. Smith’s or Harrington’s -- without sending equal money back. In return, the Rockets would either have to get a player they want or be compensated accordingly with draft picks or other assets. The Rockets also are flush with the expiring contracts of Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, and even Yao, whose contract is insured due to his season-ending foot injury.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has a history of bold moves, and has placed few restrictions on his front office, led by GM Daryl Morey, to spend money in order to win. The Rockets, for example, are currently a tax-paying team and are under no mandate from ownership to shed salary even though they are off to a slow start and have lost Yao for the season -- and maybe for good.

- Sources: Mavs poised to enter Melo chase, CBSSports.com, December 21, 2010.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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