First, there was the tweet I read, along the lines of “I don’t care what colour people are, what religion they practice, what kind of sex they have, or who with, the car they drive … I only judge people on whether they are t***s or not”.
Then there was the post title on my Medium Daily Digest feed: “Is the Human Nature Good or Evil?”
Of course, I didn’t actually read the post … you know, something else caught my eye, maybe the goals round-up from the Women’s World Cup, and then I clicked on that guinea hen chasing a Jack Russell, then there was … and now it’s too far back to scroll.
I’m not sure how related that tweet and post are, but they sure got brain bubbling away.
First up, the tweet … passing over the expletive choice — I’m not a fan — I could not agree more.
When I was growing up in small-town Catholic Ireland I only ever saw a handful of black people, and my experience of different religions was confined to our few local Protestant families, who just fixed our cars or sold us groceries anyway, and had the same craic as us — even if they disappeared off to their own mysterious churches and primary schools.
I remember the stomach-churning derring-do of sneaking into the local Church of Ireland chapel with a bunch of lads, and marvelling at the eagle figure on the lectern.
There was only one gay man in the town I was aware of, and people knew him by name, and names, though I never heard of him being beaten up.
Thinking about it now, I can only imagine the abuse he must have taken, the so-called banter.
Just one generation later my own kids are mixing with a bewildering array of races and creeds in school and beyond, and can tell you about all sorts of religious practices and customs. A few kids are already out in both their classes.
Our daughter had a brilliant day out with her pals at the latest Pride march at the weekend, which had, for the first time, members of our police force marching, and there were sportspeople, and the proverbial butchers and bakers …
We’re talking our way through LGBTQ+ here, and gender non-binary and cisgender …
Same-sex marriage has been passed into law, and our abortion laws have been liberalised.
So all hunky dory in the Swinging New Ireland?
Well, yes … kind of … no, not really.
So much stuff is at least being talked about, and that’s great … but it is still not easy to come out, and people will struggle with these issues, and you scratch a little, and the old prejudices and Sodom and Gomorrah vilifications are still voiced, and the late night attacks and the casual slurs go on.
So is the human nature good or evil?
Are people t***s or not?
Well, people rarely describe themselves as evil, even if the worst of us can justify all sorts of actions others would class as such, and we often have a hard time taking responsibility for our actions, and how they impact on others.
I was thinking about this, in particular, the other day when I had a tough day at work.
Now I work freelance in the newspaper game.
This is a precarious business anyway, with sales down and jobs being slashed and all of that, as so many get their few headlines and sports details online for so-called free.
Add to that the fact that as a freelancer, I am effectively only as good and secure as my last shift, and you have a nice little recipe for insecurity.
So in I arrive in on a work shift and one of the head guys asks for a word.
He has proofs of the newspaper’s pages, a couple of which I had worked on a couple of weeks back, and there, ringed in pencil, are mistakes I had made, misspellings in a headline and in captions and copy, and which had gone through and not all of them corrected before publication.
Now defensive brain silently comes up with all sorts of rationalisations and explanations … working against tight deadlines and on a system with which I am still not familiar as this is not my regular place of work …
But I say nothing … partly because I reckon to do so would be as futile as those hot-headed soccer players remonstrating with the referee over a VAR decision, but I am also thinking why should this guy care why I made these mistakes … he just looks at me, looks at them, ringed in shameful pencil and pathetic, and says it is just not good enough.
And he’s right!
So I suck it up and, in my head, resolve to be extra vigilant.
Who knows, I could lose this gig, or come back a better sub?
I am thinking now of the first flush of my anger, standing there, like a schoolboy with a chastising teacher, and the powerful desire to tell this guy where to go, and all of that. To throw it all up and flounce off out the door
Thinking what a t*** this guy was.
But he’s not — as far as I can tell — and besides, it’s down to me.
And my dignity. That’s my choice too.
Besides, I want the money!
Yes there is good and there is evil in human nature, but real black-and-white badness is rare.
Day to day what passes for good or evil are often errors of perception — both ways — and truth is, in many situations, a lot of crap just happens because people don’t fully consider the thoughts or feelings of others when they act.
People rarely set out to be malicious or mean, it’s just …
It happens in a million and nine ways every day … cars take up two parking spots, the soccer coach doesn’t start your kid, dogs are let poo in the street … you’ll have your own favourites, big and small.
Some times, we have to weigh it all up and decide how to take what is being dished out to us. Sometimes it is intolerable and unacceptable, and we can call the perpetrator out, or not.
But equally, some times, all things considered, we might better look at our part in things and, tough or unpleasant as it may be to have our shortcomings ringed in pencil, maybe take it on the chin, and learn from the experience.
Endeavour to get things right …
Oh, and try not to be t***s!
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