There are some who believe that we humans are essentially sinners who have to undergo redemption to become good. I prefer to think that we are mostly good people who sometimes sin. Amidst the evil and the tragedies that we see all too often these days it is easy to lean toward negative thoughts but I would argue that if we consider the millions of people on this earth we will see that the numbers tell us that goodness prevails.
Statistics are a funny thing. We learn that there are outliers in every situation. There are certainly psychopaths, sociopaths, and bonafide evil doers in our midst but on the whole they represent only a very small percentage of the total population. By the same token very few people are almost perfect. We err and fall to temptations but we try to do our best to be honest, compassionate and loving. The biggest differences between most of us involve the ways in which we choose to view the world.
There are those who work hard to develop social programs supported by the government. They believe that we can accomplish more if we provide justice through laws and programs. Others also want to help their fellow citizens but see private efforts as being more personal and far reaching than bureaucratic systems. Since our resources are limited both groups fight for the support and the power that they need to drive their ideas. In the end neither is actually better than the other but we would never know that given the rhetoric that flies every single time a problem presents itself. We tend to spend more time accusing those who differ from us than coming up with concrete workable ideas that almost everyone might agree on.
Sadly those of us who prefer more low key lives tend to ignore the noise and the disagreements and go about our the business of our daily routines. Essentially we prefer to be left alone while we do much to help others that rarely even gets noticed by those who are more opinionated. Within my little cul-de-sac there is a lovely rhythm from day to day that may seem inconsequential but I believe that those of us who live and work together day after day represent a microcosm of the world as it actually is.
We represent an amazing diversity that we tend to take for granted. All that really matters to us is that everyone on our street is friendly and helpful and nonjudgmental. We get along and simply enjoy one another’s company. Nobody is arrogant or brags but we quietly learn that our neighbors are exceptional people. A military chaplain lives nearby. A teacher works with under-served children everyday. Medical personnel heal people in the Medical Center. An engineer works to keep our environment clean. We get along quite well and enjoy those impromptu kinds of conversations that happen in our driveways when we are exiting our cars. We check on each other after bad weather or when the lights go out. We exchange baked goods and football stories. We celebrate special occasions.
There is nothing particularly unique about our little world of seven homes. My guess is that such stories are repeated over and over again all across the world because essentially it is who we are as people and how we behave. We want to get along. We enjoy doing good.
There are those who would like to turn us against one another and to make us believe that somehow one group or another is motivated by hatefulness. We are continually told that this or that half of our society does not care about the people around them. I find such tirades to be insulting and absolutely false.
As I write this I am watching my television on mute. A group of three people entered a building and killed and injured far too many innocents. We grow weary of such incidents and we are told that somehow we are all guilty that these things happen. So far nobody seems to know for sure what prompted this latest episode of violence. There is much uncertainty. The only thing for sure is that these kinds of people do not in any way represent the rest of us. While they were killing, most people were doing good. The majority of us were working on honest jobs and and going about our lives without any kind of intent to hurt. It would be so very sad if we were to begin pointing fingers at each other when we need to be asking ourselves what engenders such hate.
So many times mental illness is the culprit. Abuse is another factor. Someone who only experiences hurt as a child rather than love is all too often physically and mentally battered and confused. There is real evil but it is the exception, not the rule. We have to put a stop to to those who would harm us without implicating people and groups who have nothing whatsoever to do with the problems. We have grown accustomed to turning to arguments all too easily and shouting down those with whom we should instead join hands in a spirit of unity. I tend to blame our leaders, for they have set the standards of oppositional behavior and they are wrong to do so.
I pray for the families of those who were killed or injured. I know that this tragedy will affect them for the rest of their lives. I pray that those who lead us will not use this occasion for political capital. I send gratitude to the brave first responders who walked directly into the line of fire to protect the people of their town. They have been the recipients of much criticism of late and I would not have blamed them had they refused to help. Instead they demonstrated my point. They did their jobs with grace and strength. Countless others who found themselves at the scene of the shooting took care of their brothers and sisters without even thinking about their own safety.
We are essentially good. This I believe. We need to embrace each other regardless of our differing races, political philosophies, religions. We cannot let the bastards grind us down. They want to divide us. We must not let them.