Good Guys and Bad Guys

I like to read first thing every morning. Then I journal. My journaling is often a conversation between myself and the author of whatever book I happen to be reading. The conversation goes like this: I write a quote from the book and then my response. Here is an example: 

“There are no good guys and bad guys…we are all a mixture of good and bad.”

(My response) I think the tendency to see the world as made up of good guys and bad is a pretty black-and-white view of things which doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking. So it is an easier way to look at life but it can also be a source of anxiety. For example, if you see Muslims as bad, what happens when you meet a Muslim who is clearly a loving person and shares your own values? I remember being challenged myself in the early 60’s when black people started showing up in my circle of acquaintances.  The “us vs. them” model fell apart. The same thing happened for me in the 90’s with gays and lesbians.

These experiences led me to see a shared goodness with others. But there was also the opposite experience of seeing in myself a character defect for which I have judged others. For example, the tendency to gossip. I can’t remember when I woke up to the fact that I gossip, but it was like being hit over the head with a proverbial two by four. Another was my tendency to be critical of others. I realized that, being a perfectionist, I walked around with an imaginary measuring stick, judging myself and others every chance I got.

Here is another example, which I took from the same book: “The first step to healing the present world crisis would be for us to be big enough to understand the enemy’s point of view.”

(My response) This, for me, suggests that seeing our commonalities with others, both negative and positive, can go a long way to healing the world crises. It sure has helps me in my day-to-day relationships. I know that there are people who are trying to apply this principle in the world of business and even between nations. But it is hard work. The step from seeing the other as an enemy to seeing the other as brother or sister can be as wide and as deep as the Grand Canyon.