old friends, new friends + good times

10:56 AM

This past weekend was lovely. Finally not too hot so one could actually enjoy being outdoors. We invited our good friends over on Saturday and spent the whole day chatting and eating, it was perfect. I love the way life just comes full circle sometimes in such a perfect way. The wife of the couple was my friend in Russia since I was three. Then my family moved away and the last time we saw each other was when we were both still in middle school. Fast forward to 2009 and I met her and her sweet husband at my cousin's wedding. It was as if no time had passed! We fell right back into the familiar comfort of that friendship. And it was as if I had always known her husband. It's funny isn't it when people find "that" person how easily they assimilate into their life and family? But I digress, in 2010 they moved to Maryland and we've been growing our friendship ever since! There's nothing better than being around people who get you, with whom you have a loyalty that runs so deep and far. 
I've been mulling over this particular thought for a few days now - everyone has someone who loves and understands them unconditionally, sometimes it's immediate family, a spouse or a good friend. Even people we deem horrible go home to someone who thinks they're wonderful. What that says to me is there is something good and valuable in everyone. So then, what if we applied this to everyone we met? After all none of us are perfect, we've all made mistakes, done or said things we regret and have secrets only our nearest and dearest know and have forgiven us for. It's so easy to write people off, to misunderstand them (especially online), to assume the worst instead of accepting the best. 
Johnathan Haidt, a psychologist focused on studying happiness, sees the eradication of the "myth of pure evil" as a precursor to happiness and a deeper and richer understanding of human beings. He hypothesizes that:
"Liberals are experts in thinking about issues of victimization, equality, autonomy, and the rights of individuals, particularly those of minorities and nonconformists.  Conservatives, on the other hand, are experts in thinking about loyalty to the group, respect for authority and tradition, and sacredness.  When one side overwhelms the other, the results are likely to be ugly.  A society without liberals would be harsh and oppressive to many individuals.  A society without conservatives would lose many of the social structures and constraints that Durkheim showed are so valuable.  Anomie would increase along with freedom.  A good place to look for wisdom, therefor, is where you least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents.  You already know the ideas common on your own side. If you can take off the blinders of the myth of pure evil, you might see some good ideas for the first time."
I would take it a step further and say that removing those blinders when looking at another human being may give you the ability to see someone in a completely different light. Perhaps in the light that their loved ones see them. I also came a passage from Andrew Solomon's book (currently reading, though very slowly so as not to miss a beat of the brilliance that is emanating from it) that really touched where Dylan Klebold's mother says that the Columbine tragedy changed the way she sees other people forever. She said "When I hear about terrorists in the news, I think, 'That's somebody's kid.'" I'm not talking about making excuses I'm just talking about humanity, grace and forgiveness. As Jesus said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” None of us are perfect and in our very poor and broken way I believe we're all just trying our best. Call me an eternal optimist but I would like to believe there is something beautiful, kind and wonderful in each and every single one of us. You just have to look at little harder sometimes. 

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2 notes

  1. unfortunately i disagree - but only in the rare few is there something not good. however, this thought comes solely from watching criminal minds and reading up on the wiring of a psychopath's mind (and how it differs from a normal brain), so take that with a grain of salt. but in the huge majority, yes i agree. i also tend to tell myself that you don't know how someone's day is going, what pain they have, etc. when i'm out in nyc. there are a million things when you're taking the subway, walking, getting lunch, etc. that can annoy you or cause you to be a less pleasant person. thinking of that makes me more forgiving to those around me, rather than being annoyed.

    1. Oh my gosh Criminal Minds! The worst and somehow the best. I am so addicted to those kinds of shows. And I totally get it, they almost always make me lose all hope for humanity :(


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