I’ve been thinking lately on why it’s so easy to get fixated on the bad side of people rather than the good. We all have a bit of both sides in all of us. Maybe it’s because it makes it easy for us to find a reason to say no, goodbye, or never mind. Maybe it’s because it makes us feel better about ourselves. If they are bad, we are good.
We do it in schools. Once a student gets in trouble, he’s marked for life. “That’s the boy that got in a fight,” the teacher says. “I heard about him.”
We do it at work. A colleague makes a mistake and she can’t be trusted anymore. We do it with family and friends, but most of all we do it with people we don’t know and don’t want to get to know.
Like the guy walking down the street who has a tattoo on his face. We tell our kids to be careful of that man. He looks like a troublemaker. Or the old man getting along with a little bit of a limp as he pushes a shopping cart. We feel like we know a lot about him. He’s made bad decisions. He drinks a little. Stay away from him.
We do it to young people who we know are going to make mistakes, big and small, because that’s what young people do. Like the soon-to-be 18-year old who took a bottle from the corner liquor store. People whisper about him because if he did that he’s capable of doing so much worse. Lock him up.
Our minds are filled with thoughts of anger and disappointment with the world around us. If a neighbor is accused of something we are quick to go online and ask for him to get the chair! After all, we have an obligation to stand up for our community and get rid of the scum.
Maybe it’s easier to go on living in this complex world of ours if we take care of the bad by erasing it immediately. We don’t want the bad to creep into our lives and make us bad because we are good. If that happens, who will be there to keep tabs on the bad?
I don’t want to be one of those people that points out who is bad and who is right. There’s enough of those around. I want to be one of those people that listens. Just listens. I want to hear the story…