Liquid Footprints

Common Seeds

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There is good in everyone; it is up to us to find it.  Clichéd, but it is true. I know of many people who view others as being wholly “bad.” They may have been wronged by these people, and many of these “bad” people do have serious personal issues they need to work through.  It certainly doesn’t mean their entire existence is bad. Too many of us think with broad blanket labels (yes, this is a broad blanket label of itself). No one is wholly bad. People, by the virtue of simply being human, have seeds of good.

Let’s stop here a moment and consider the labels of “good” and “bad.” As I have written before, good and bad are just terms we associate with things we tend to like or dislike. Good and bad are subjective and determined by our thinking.  Most, if not all, bad events have kernels of “good.”Likewise, good events have kernels of “bad.” A death in the family is a “bad” event only if people look at it that way. Death can teach us to use our own limited time more effectively and even draw a family closer. Both of these can be considered “good.” Likely you are thinking “well that is just too relativistic.Good and bad do exist absolutely.” Evil does exist but only as a function of people’s behavior. Natural disasters are incapable of being evil, or bad. They simply happen. It is human reactions that are bad or good, and even then the opposite still exists in the situation. It was “bad” that the Twin Towers were attacked. It was bad that people had to die. At the same time, the reactions of the rescue crews, the opened discourse on extreme ideologies, and  increased worldwide sympathy are good. In general, good and bad mostly depends on your outlook and who stands to benefit. It’s “bad” when we seemingly don’t benefit; even if we do benefit and don’t realize it.

Anyway, time to leave off label and thought philosophy for, er, more philosophy. People are not wholly good or bad since that is just a broad label we place upon them. People have aspects of both. We have seeds of kindness, anger, love, compassion, empathy, hate, violence, and selfishness.  Our thoughts, actions, and exposure to influences determine which seeds grow in the mind. Even the most violent murderer has seeds of good.

Because we share the same seeds we need to realize that we too would react in the same “bad” ways if we had identical situations happen to us as the person we are labeling. The act of labeling defines how we react toward people. If we think they are “bad” we will treat them as bad people. If we see them as having good we will treat them as good people. We can’t change people’s behavior, but we can change how we view those people.  Treating people poorly only propagates the bad behavior that we see. Treating people with compassion can awaken them to the negative seeds they have grown.

If you see people as inherently bad or have a list of people you dislike or even hate, you are the problem. Read that sentence again. You are the problem. In all interactions you are the commonality. If you have a lot of difficulties with people, you need to shift your thinking about those people on your list.  Blaming them and listing how they wronged you doesn’t change the fact that you are responsible for your reactions. People will wrong each other through ignorance and simple unawareness.  Does it really matter if you “get back” at them or not? Suffering is a cycle that ends once you shift your thinking toward compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.  The only thing you can control is yourself. As you go down your lists of wrongs you only water the plants of sorrow, anger, hate, and depression. However, if you shift your thinking and look for the good in people when they hurt you, if you look at a given situation and give people the benefit of understanding, you will find your social situations will move toward more favorable outcomes. We treat people as we see them; they, in turn, treat us in response to how we treat them. It starts with ourselves.

Gandhi said it better than I can:

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

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Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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