Jan 26, 2013

"You never meet anybody that thinks they're a bad person." (The Talented Mr Ripley)

The real issue has something to do with the fact that you believe you are a good person. Righteous. At your core, no matter what you do, a worthy and wonderful human at your core. And it allows you to do strange, insensitive and unkind things, always retreating back to this assumption that you have not, yet tarnished the golden nugget at your core that allows you to live without shame.

Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe this is an appreciation for the inherent value of human life. For your inherent beauty. But then I ask: do you begin with the same assumption around every other person. Are they also a good person who was just mean that day? Are they, at their core, kind and productive, but just feeling lazy and harsh the day or month you knew them?

Or maybe it is the opposite.

I have known more than one guy who has begun or ended our dialogue with the admission "well, I am an asshole" Not in a sad, "I wish I could change" kind of way, but as if this was some sort of explanation for their behavior, as if this was the end of the story, a distinct unmovable core of their being that dictated their actions.  

And maybe they believed this of others as well.

But I suspect not.

The thing about value judgements is that words only have real impact and value when they have context. Everyone may be beautiful on their own way, but you know, when we call a person a hotty, it would have no meaning without the sad reality of the ugly duckling next door. When we say someone is mean, or cruel, we imagine someone else out there is kind.

And when we begin from a notion that we are obviously a wonderful person who just may do some bad things, without presuming the same of others, we begin a big long slippery slope that allows our actions to exist in a strange grey zone that does not dictate our self worth. And the biggest issue with that is that we begin to lose perspective, we begin to lose the motivation to change our actions, because, in the end, we are a wonderful person, no matter what we do.

This is very dangerous. I have met people who hurt person after person and then will turn around and talk about what a bad person another person is, without even considering what their actions say about them.

Likewise I have witnessed the sad reality of a person whose whole life is devoted to helping others feel better or be happier, and then will consider themselves tainted, damaged, sad or bad because of something they were led to believe about their sould.

It is the thing I repeat more often than anything else. We are, for the most part, what we do. And that is good, because we can choose what we do.

You are the sort of person who does what you do, no matter what you do. And you have the capacity to change that. For better or for worse.
You can be kind or amazing or self sacrificing, or unforgiving, or cruel. Even if, out of habit, it does not come easy.

1 comment:

Snowcap said...

I love this.