A wise young person recently posed a question about “aha” moments. And I thought about the biggest one for me in the last decade or so. It’s a bit embarrassing because it falls under “the moment when you first knew…” and it came a bit late.
I like to think the best of people. In fact I’ve disciplined myself to notice where you seem to thrive, excel, light up. That’s how my radar works. If you see me giving you a calculating scan, I’m checking your strengths and skills. Being a full time disaster ”anticipator” means I’m doing a constant 360° scan to see who/what there is to work with if (when) it all goes to hell in a handbasket.
But my aha: everybody is not your friend and everybody is not on your side and in the same boat and wanting what’s best for everybody and trying hard to be good for the world. A crusty old boss of mine once said to me:
“You have a lot of talent but two things are gonna tank you. You think everyone cares as much about this work as you do and they don’t. And you’re the only person I’ve ever met that thinks the agenda is the agenda.” I thought he was a bit cynical and he thought I was a bit Forrest Gump and we were both right.
Some folks – not that many – full time just want to be as mean as possible. Some hide it well and others strut and flaunt their ability to inflict pain. Some will dress up their spite, wrap it up like spoiled meat in a taco, throw some justifying pico de gallo on it and feed to those around them. Making a bunch of people sick. Still at their core there is something a bit rotten and it can’t be covered up by heat. God may save them but I (you) cannot.
So my big aha moment is this:
If you treat a feral hog like a pet pig, you’ll be dinner. Don’t ignore information people try to give you and don’t trust the people who knew it was a hog all along and didn’t tell you.
One of the first spiritual teachings I got was that humans have a choice. In fact, that’s supposed to be the big deal about being human. Conscious choice. We can decide to be spiteful, evil, selfish, stingy. And most of us have done that from time to time. Just got low enough, tired enough to sling around some spoiled meat. I’ve been a feral hog at times. (Recently I was a rude maniac at a ticket window just because they didn’t accept credit cards without ID. Still feeling kinda sick about it because when I went back to say I’m so sorry – they were gone.)
But if you know someone is on that path in a permanent, by choice kind of way – they hurt babies and hunt while everyone is sleeping – kindness makes you prey and empathy just gets you eaten.
You can’t make people good by being good to them. They get to choose.
I wrote this for me and maybe for you too.