Wednesday, 19 January 2011

black and white

Sometimes people say that some people are 'black and white' (aka devoid of shades of grey). My brother is someone who has been described to me as this before as he stands by his own view of the world. And why not if you beleive it to be true? This can be irritating for sure (see the time when he lived with me, if you happen to be in my head encyclopedia) and can manifest itself in stubborness, but I think that in general I am proud of anyone who is like this. I am proud of my brother for saying when he was young that he would not befriend a smoker because he did not approve of smoking. Some may think that is a bit harsh to rule a person, or potential friend out, for doing something you disapprove of, but I disagree. Then again, he has a lot more friends than I do. He's a likeable person for sure, so maybe that trait can be reconciled easily with other aspects of one's personality.

This blog is not about my brother though. It is about there being truths, and stances, and no shades of grey. Today I read a post on the blog of someone I do not know that made me feel so scared and sad and worried about the people we co-exist with. This stranger outlined how she was conned/ripped off and severley intimidated by a cowboy locksmith. Not only that she was failed by those who are meant to help you, to save you from such - the policeman who attended. You can read her story here.

I am someone who beleives in good and bad. I am also someone who doesn't beleive in quite good or a little bit bad. I beleive that there are two kinds of people in the world, good people and bad people. Good people are those who try to do good, try to help, try to treat others well and act responsibly. Bad people are those who do not care for other people, who will degrade and ride roughshod over other people to acheive their ends. Bad people are also those people who will do bad things to other people. The reason doesn't matter; they do it.

It's not like I walk around saying 'good, good, bad, good, BAD, bad, good...' when I see or meet people. People have a way of disguising their true identities. Anyone who has ever met someone who has changed after some time knows this to be true. People are always acting. Nearly everyone is acting good. It is so tiresome to have this black and white view because not only do you have to assess each person on their personalities, but you have then to be sure that you have not fallen for their act once more.

I suppose people will think it is childish and naive of me to think that people are good or bad and that's it but it isn't; it's realistic. I do admit that sometimes good people can do bad things. I think that you can judge this yourself to find out the reality though. Anyone who is a good person knows the feeling of guilt, of conscience that they have deep down if they misbehave. Have you ever lost the rag and shouted at someone and then felt that pang of regret as your anger dissolves. Did you ever do something bad when young, steal a sibling's toy or go somewhere you weren't allowed, and then feel guilty and unable to keep it to yourself that you misbehaved? Certainly though bad people can do good things. They do them to build a facade.

There are a lot of bad people out there. Functioning liars exist, spinning elaborate webs and stories where they are the saint and you follow them with staring eyes and an adoring smile. Selfish, careless people steal. They don't insure their cars, they spray paint people's property and they abuse others for a living. Hardskinned, emotional attackers put people down, and trick their friends, and lie and tease and harass day in day out.

I feel sorry for the good people out there battling against this. That's why people always question why bad things happen to good people. But who else would it happen to? Those who aren't good don't let bad things happen as they will take any route possible to get what they want.

The stranger who wrote of her expericence with the locksmith had no hope. In one fail swoop two horrible, disgusting, lowlife, poor excuses for people managed not only to make her feel sick and scared and depressed, but they made her home and her city and her night seem unsafe. We try and make niches for ourselves where we can control the inputs and outputs and keep the bad out and put the good in. When someone tries to ruin that you know that being black and white about people isn't pie in the sky.

I could tell this person that everything will be alright, that she will feel safe again and she should forget about these horrible people, but surely that is bowing down in the face of badness. Anytime I see a person who is hurt or killed for defending their people or their home from intruders or robbers or thugs it makes me so sick. People keep on surrendering to these people and badness spreads like wildfire. Soon it is accepted that I cross the street when I see a bunch of youths in tracksuits. Youths who offer nothing to society, nothing to any single living person yet take all they need from those who do. And I am crossing the road for them? It drives you crazy.

I used not to be able to deal with it. I find it easier when I consider the idea that it's not just that good people are damaged by the bad. I have posted before about my beleif that your outcome is based on what you put in. I know that this offers no comfort to the good harassed by the bad. They have to put up with constant pain and slaps in the face with the knowledge that these horrible people will not end up having what they might have. And it's not fair. Life isn't fair. You can't control these people and you can't control life. The good people out there are outnumbered, drowning in a sea of darkness. What you can control is your own existence and your own influence on the good around you. It's not coincidence that fat parents have fat children and it is even less of a coincidence that good parents have good children. For me the idea that parents out there, good, honest people, are teaching their children to be good - that keeps me going when people piss in my close and break into my husband's car. That these children can take these lessons and hold their own through bullies and teases, let downs and lies, from their own peers, and still manage to remain essentially good.

I remember having an debate with my Dad. It was in the car driving home through the back roads from Edinburgh to where we used to live. I must have been around 17 years old. He argued that the horrible, worthless people of the world were taking over society gradually and the good people, the people who put effort in to keeping our country functioning and a decent place to live, would gradually migrate. They would move to other countries and re-plant and our homeland would be over run with awful people. This was his fear, and his view of the future. I told him that it wouldn't happen. That trends are always cyclical and that there would be a peak and then a gradual fall back to the way it was. I don't think he was persuaded by me and that's okay. But I think that it will happen. As long as people keep standing up, and keep on passing on the goodness. The worst thing in the world that could happen would be for people admit that "if you can't beat them, join them". If you think yourself a good person I want you never to do that. Never let the bad people win. Never admit that those people can control you and more than anything else never let the car-robbers or verbal abusers or conmen out there stop you from living your life by the view of the world you hold.

There are no shades of grey when it comes to humanity.

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