I whole-heartedly embrace the ideal that people are born “good.” It’s the choices they make — the free will they exercise — that start to color their state of being, their personality, and yes, whether they will be “good” people or “bad” people in their future. And there are extremes of both.
Although I’m not a religious person, there are indeed, those whom you might call ‘saints’ in this world. Those are the folks who have decided to, quite literally, give everything they have and everything they are to lift up others in this world. True saints are few in number. If each generation sees one, we should count ourselves lucky to have witnessed that kind of living.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe there are so many more people in the world who go above and beyond on a regular basis! A good many of our firefighters, police, medical personnel, military members, teachers, among others… these are everyday heroes, and deserve respect from every quarter. They are the people who make a community worth living in. They are the people in positions for which I don’t mind paying my taxes, that I want living in my neighborhood. These are the people you hope your children look up to, and respect, and become in their own lives.
Then there are those of us who fervently hope we will make good choices and raise our children to be the kinds of everyday heroes we admire, too. We help where we can, and we’ll even go out of our way to assist someone in need. We are good people, except when we’re not; but at least we have the grace to feel bad when we knowingly don’t exercise good judgment or knowingly don’t make a good choice. We feel guilt for hurting someone else, and make amends where we can. “I’m sorry” are two words good people aren’t afraid to say.
There are those people who really don’t care about anyone but themselves. It’s a dark and lonely place to be, but they don’t see it that way because they are dazzled by their own shallow glow. Narcissists. You know one when you meet one, because they have an innate need to dampen everyone else’s light, so they don’t have to compete. Life is all about them. Everything is personal — good and bad. And they will let you know it is ALWAYS someone ELSE’S fault/doing/being/saying. We can only hope these Islands of Ones and Onlies will someday wake up and see they are alone in a sea of other narcissists.
Unfortunately, there are people who choose to become just plain evil. We have seen evil in history’s genocides, as recently as this week. We have seen evil in people who hurt and torture others, including animals, “just because.” We see evil in those who want anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe to be judged and damned. Evil is hate in action. It’s what’s left when the self burns away everything else in order to gain what it believes is “power.” It’s what’s left when someone has convinced themselves that others are “less than.” But because there is always someone else who will come along and wrest that power from them, one way or another, there is eventually nothing left but evil in these people.
What does it truly cost each one of us to treat everyone as we wish to be treated? How does one person’s gender, sexual orientation, race, marriage, religious outlook, height, weight, whether or not they have children, eye color, age, or favorite drink between Coke and Pepsi affect you? Really, I’m asking: how does it affect you if someone doesn’t believe exactly as you believe? You won’t be friends? Ok, don’t invite them to your house for dinner. But don’t for one moment think they are “less than”. Believing — and acting — otherwise leads to narcissistic and evil choices. Among those evil choices are deciding to be judge, jury, and executioner.
I have no answers for the evil carried out recently. But evil being present does not preclude the presence of good. I still believe in the good people, the everyday heroes, and the saints among us. They appeared in Las Vegas. They were there at a nightclub in Orlando. In a movie theater in Aurora. In Blacksburg. In San Bernardino. Fort Hood. Littleton. Newton. Too many more cities; too much history rife with tragedy when the good are called upon to give so much.
I see the evil. I choose to have faith in the good.