A Question of Inherent Goodness

I have always believed in the inherent goodness of most people. My whole life, I’ve held to the belief that, as Luke Skywalker said in “Return of the Jedi” regarding his father, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, “There’s still good in him. I can feel it.” At the end of the movie–and at the time, we thought, the story–we discovered that Luke was right. Vader not only saved his son’s life at the end but in the process “brought balance to the Force” as had been prophesied many, many years before. This idea? Of someone as evil as Darth Vader being inherently good? It is a comforting one.

I’m far from naive on this point, guys. I’ve seen too much to believe that all people are inherently good (hence my use of the term “most” in my opening sentence). They’re not. Jerry Sandusky? Not. Adolf Hitler? Definitely not. Did I just lump a child molester and a genocidal maniac in to the same sentence? Yes, I did. In my mind one is just as sick, twisted and f*cked up as the other and that’s not because I went to Penn State and am disgusted by what he–Sandusky–and his co-conspirators have done to the reputation of my beloved Alma Mater.

Quite simply? I believe and will always believe that evil exists. It can be incarnated in any number of ways. Whether you believe that evil is a tangible commodity, evident in people like the aforementioned ones like I do, or you believe that it is an abstract concept that we use to explain the in-explainable–atrocities committed that defy logical explanation (see: Sandy Hook, etc.)–is irrelevant. In our world on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence? Bad people exist. And bad people do bad things. Which brings me back to the reason that I started writing this blog entry in the first place.

I have always believed and I will always believe in the inherent goodness of most people. Let me repeat that: I will always believe in the inherent goodness of most people. It’s part of who I am as a person. But some days? Believing is hard. Damn hard. Take today. Today, I discovered that someone that I trusted was funneling information to someone else in an attempt to… what? Implicate me? Get back at me? Did said funneler think that he/she was doing the right thing? Probably. Is he/she evil? No. He/she is no more evil than I am. Am I being intentionally vague? Yes, and that’s the extent of what I’m going to say err, write on the matter.

The thing is? This is not the first time this has happened. It has happened before. The names and faces have changed over time but the mentality, apparently, still exists. Perhaps it is a product of the institution, whatever that institution may be and not its individual personalities. Perhaps. Or perhaps it is just a sad coincidence. Whatever it is, for lack of a better explanation, it is. I don’t always question the way things are, guys. I know, shocking, huh? But sometimes, it is safer to just keep my head down and be that living, breathing facsimile of a smiley face that you all know and… I hope… love to some extent. But as some reading this may know and some may not, I’ve got a bit of a history with this kind of a situation.

It goes all the way back to my childhood. Back then, I was not a living, breathing facsimile of a smiley face. I was a depressive, pear-shaped kid who wore a lot of black and constantly sought acceptance from his peers. I eventually found it, but it took me the better part of 15… almost 16 years to do so and it didn’t happen overnight. Oh hell no. It was a rigorous process. But by the time I graduated high school and started my Freshman year at Penn State Abington (known then as “Penn State Ogontz,” and thereafter for a short time as “Penn State Abington-Ogontz” or “Ab-Oz” as we endearingly referred to it) that sad and sordid history? It was a distant memory. I was older, wiser, slimmer and more mature. I was, for the most part, happy. But I never forgot, guys. No way. Never.

Am I bitter? No. I haven’t been bitter in a couple of decades. If anything, I laugh about it now, mainly with my wife and others who suffered through similar situations to mine growing up. But… and here’s the rub… if this kind of thing has happened before, is happening now and will, likely, happen again if I remain in the same situation that I am currently in, why “hold fast” as my screensaver on both my computer at home and at work proclaims? Why continue to believe in the inherent goodness of most people if, per not just my own, personal history’s example but the example of history in general demonstrates that people are not? Why not forcibly remove myself from the situation before things get worse?

All are good questions. Valid ones. Questions that require a little pondering and, it seems, a blog entry. I think that a part of the reason why is this: I ‘kinda get off on it, a little. Yeah, I went there. Don’t avert your eyes and scream that you’re blind because the majority of you reading this have likely never seen me in person or haven’t seen me in anything other than a thumbnail in a long, long time and are unequipped to judge.

I do, though. I get off on being challenged, rising to the challenge and overcoming it. All of you people that quote “oppressed me” unquote back in the day? Guess what? A part of me enjoyed it. Do you know or can you guess why? The answer is pretty simple and it can be summed up in one word: Attention. When you were doing it, you were paying attention to me and I longed for that. I let it go on for as long as I did because I liked the attention that I was accruing. When I grew up, though, and realized that conceding to being a proverbial punching bag was unhealthy? I moved passed it. Put it in my proverbial rear view mirror. Finis. 

The same is somewhat true, now, but only the part about being challenged, rising to the challenge and overcoming it. Trust me. The proverbial punching bag thing? Yeah. I don’t do that anymore. I punch back. Ask the funneler and the funnel-ee if you don’t believe me. But only if you can ring their names out of my cold, dead hands…

Um… yeah. Okay. 

Of course, if this blog entry is any indication, I’m apparently still very good at the whole garnering attention thing. But really, guys? Am I? I average about 20-25 hits per blog entry, and that’s only since I moved “Random Musings” from Google Blogger to WordPress a few months ago. Before that, I was lucky if I got 20 hits per blog entry (on average). I’ve had a few highs–“Dora the Explorer – A J. J. Abrams Film”–and a few lows–“Post Number 30, Subtitled at Points in Spanish”–but for the most part? My little blog is a virtual non-entity in the greater blogosphere.

If I did this solely for attention I would have stopped a long time ago. Still, though, I toil onward, and have been toiling onward for almost four years now. No. I don’t maintain “Random Musings” for attention. I do it because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy writing. Some people play sports, jog, play “World of Warcraft” or otherwise. I write. And writing, for me, is another extension of who I am. Turn away if you desire to. I won’t hold it against you.

So that’s one reason why. Kind of a gross one, I know. I promise I’ll never reference “getting off” again. How about another reason? Okie-dokie, then. Another reason why I continue to believe in the inherent goodness of others despite the fact that some days, believing is hard. Because hidden within the nastiness that graces the static page of every news site from CNN to Fox News, to MSNBC to C-SPAN is proof.

I understand the media. I understand that sh*t sells. I’ve seen “The Running Man” a dozen or so times. And while I disagree wholeheartedly with profiting from other people’s misfortune and turning dictators in to modern day, dime store paperback anti-heroes, I’m not going to tell you how to do your job. You’ve got to feed your families ‘same as I do. But…

But look no further than the teacher that hid her students from the Sandy Hook shooter a little over a month ago and lost her life because of it. Or the bus driver that ended up dying because he tried to stop a gunman from kidnapping a student. Or the pilot that safely landed his plane in the Hudson River a few years ago and saved over a hundred lives. Or “Gabby” Giffords. Or the woman… hell, the women that defy the traditional, submissive roles forced upon them by their respective societies.

See what I mean? For every Jerry Sandusky there’s a Malala Yousafzai. For every Adolf Hitler there’s a “Kid President.” For every bad person doing bad things there’s a good person showing the world that despite how horrific things can get, there remains hope. For society. For us. I’m not going to lie: Humanity is pretty far gone presently. If you believe otherwise that’s your prerogative but I’m sorry: I require your proof. Me, personally? I remain a believer in the inherent goodness in most men and women because of the Gabbys, the Malalas and the “Kid Presidents.” For me? As long as one true hero or heroine exists in the midst of the political strong men, women and profiteers that choke the life from this world there is hope. So I’ll never stop believing. Until the day rolls around that I watch or read the news and see nothing but negativity I’ll never stop. That said…

Somewhere, on another side of the proverbial wormhole of existence Luke Skywalker just informed the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi that “there’s still good in [Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader]. I know it.” We all know how that story ends. Vader throws the Emperor over the railing and in to the abysmal heart of the second Death Star and he and his son have a touching, last moment together. Cue me crying (yes, when I first saw it I cried), the funeral pyre and the Ewoks, dancing to the “Yub Yub” song. But what about this story? Ours? How will it end? Am I correct in my assessment that at its core, most human souls retain some semblance of good despite how some have been corrupted by everything from the media to the desire to be accepted by their peers? Am I just as naive at 37 as I was at 13? Only time will tell, I guess. But as for right now? I believe what I believe. Despite funnelers and funnel-ees, I still believe it, and will continue to do so…

Long after these credits have rolled. Finis. 

Written and Directed by Frank Marsh.

🙂