Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Make the Leap

Today someone wrote me a letter.  In the fairly recent past, this person (who shall remain nameless) wronged me in a very painful way.  And then disappeared.  But in a renewal of communication, via a short letter, they made the following statement:

"We all have our faults, but I'm not a bad person." 

This got me thinking, a la Pooh Bear.

I guess it made me wonder, "Well, what, exactly, would it take to make someone a bad person?"  Or, perhaps the inverse is really more to the point.  What does it take to make a good person?  Although someone may not exactly be a bad person, does that make them a good person? Our definitions can get muddled, because it's easier to think in negatives.  The behavior in question was quite wrong, morally and ethically.  In fact, it was really the cherry on top of a mountain of morally bankrupt choices.  But rather than look in the mirror and ask, "Am I a good person?"  It's easier to slide on by and keep telling one's self, "Well, I'm not exactly a bad person."

I guess I'm just struck today by the fact that there really is a wide gulf between a truly good person, and a truly bad person.   There's a big leap between good and bad; a gaping chasm of middle ground.

All this made me ask myself, "In what ways do I do the same thing?" because we all have to decide whether we want to make the leap to being a "good person."  It doesn't happen by accident.  It's way too easy to fall down the chasm of middle-ness; un-good and un-bad.  I see this clearly, among people of all faiths, including people in the Christian church.

I don't want to fall into that middle place.  I want to make the leap.  In a way, as a Christian who believes in original sin (hell, as a parent who has seen it first-hand!) I guess I assume we all start out on the "bad" side of the equation, and my life experience seems to bear that out!  I just really want to make sure I make the leap, and get over to the other side.  (Don't get me wrong, I know I need help, from Christ and others.)  But I think all of us can find ourselves slipping into the cleft that whispers, "You know, you're not really all that bad...."

"So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." -Revelation 3:16

1 comment:

  1. "We all have our faults, but I'm not a bad person"

    Ahh, the BUT!!! Any time we use but, it negates everything we said before the but. It is one of the red flags in speech that always perks my ears straight up.
    I love you, but...
    You look good, but...

    It is like putting a qualifier on what we said just before the but, or some way to soften the truth. Why not just say the truth? Every time I have met someone who had to state that they were not a bad person (in their mind), was trying to convince themselves that regardless of how horrible they were or are viewed by others, they really felt that saying they were good made it so. Especially if someone, anyone, would agree with their view.

    Some people are really good at being bad, and are unapologetic. I have come to prefer to live an authentic life, moment by moment.

    Just like with fashion, what is good or bad is subjective, an opinion, an impulse that evokes a visceral response.