Monday, July 26, 2010

Good or ill. Monday, July 26, 2010.

“We are all angels. It is what we do with our wings that separates us.” – Father Harlan, “Northfork”

Some people believe that people are evil at heart. They might believe this consciously, as part of a greater belief system, such as a religion that tells them human beings are evil by nature. Or they might believe it subconsciously. There are people in my life who seem to find store clerk always clueless and the waitress always rude. I have to believe that deep inside, they are expecting the worst of others and therefore, they find it.

I tend to find that most people are mostly nice most of the time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my fights with the credit card companies, or that there aren’t a few individuals that are the bane of my existence. But I honestly believe that humans are basically good at heart. When individuals aren’t good, it means something has gone wrong.

I look at New York City as my example. This is a city of more than 8 million people crammed into an area of 305 square miles. And yet – this comes as a surprise to most people – it has the lowest crime rate among the 25 largest cities in America. In 2002, New York City had the same crime rate as Provo, Utah.

In 2007, the city had less than 500 homicides. That’s 500 too many, but my point is this: if human beings were truly evil at heart, how do 8 million people of divergent ethnic groups and economic classes co-exist in such a small space, with so comparatively few killing each other? How many terrible things do NOT happen? We have no way of counting.

While we want to be wise in our dealings with others – we want to keep our doors locked, our purses and wallets in hand, and our Social Security Numbers secret – I believe we can still look at others with optimism. Most people are pretty decent. Most people won’t abuse us. And we’re adults and find ourselves in negative relationships again and again, we might have to look in a mirror.

No one ever asks to be abused, and no one ever deserves it. But we may be attracted to people that abuse us because we believe the lie that we deserve to be treated poorly.

The world is full of good people: good men and women, good doctors, good counselors, good social workers, good police officers. To be sure, there are plenty of bad apples among them. But if we find a bad one, we can keep looking until we find the good one that we need – and that we deserve.

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