“There are only two races of men: the decent and the indecent.” — Viktor Frankl
If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s how people have a strange way of seeing themselves. Even more strange, however, is how the media sees people. You can probably name a group of people the media has portrayed as some caricature of its actual self – whether it’s televangelists, feminists, rich people, poor people, white people, black people, Republicans, Democrats, gay people, queer people, etc.
I’m not even talking about the news media. I’m talking about books, movies, advertisements, and TV shows. (I heard once that people have a tendency to relate to their favorite TV shows like old friends; they are familiar and become part of the society in which they live, even after the show goes off the air. I can relate to this with The Office. )
Now, I am young yet, but I’ve figured out by experience the media is not right about a lot of things.
You need a deeper look when it comes to people.
I have a student looking into homelessness in my research class. He’s surprised to find just how many whole families are homeless, how it’s not just men standing at the corners of streets or women huddled on the sidewalks.
I teach at a smaller school with a mix of colored students. None of them agree with BlackLivesMatter’s protesting, especially when it comes to style, or that they are somehow at the school because of “White Privilege.” Many are also veterans, of all ages, and they all agree: War is necessary in the face of evil, even if pacifism is preferable, or more comfortable.
I’m a woman, but I can laugh at my gender’s stereotypes, and recognize that a stereotype is not the truth about me. OR – get this – anyone else. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Milo Yiannopolous‘s Twitter feed.
I’m a feminist (technically only a 1.5 wave feminist) but I can still recognize while feminism can be good for women who are by themselves, looking to take care of themselves, it is a destructive philosophy for women with families to follow ardently. (Yes, Feminism does have a shelf-life and limitations.)
My boss is a Muslim, and we can have conversations about religion and culture without ruining our professional relationship or friendship. My muse for my writing is an atheist, yet he’s someone to whom I owe a great deal, especially when it comes to understanding the love of God.
I live in a society, but I recognize that what I get from it and what I give to it are two completely different things, and one does not need to affect the other. I can control a lot of that. I am responsible for myself and those in my care.
I can disagree with people while still valuing them.
Don’t let your perceptions of how a group of people should be affect how you see them as they really are.
That’s where the “decent” and “indecent” distinction come in. If someone is all about themselves, can’t work for someone else, can’t get past themselves to really look at another person, can’t sacrifice for someone else, can’t see another person’s value; if someone is insistent on putting themselves before another, if someone is forever reminding others of their failure, if someone is unable to see the truth rather than what they want to be true, if someone is unable to see his or her own flaws, failures, or shortcomings, then what decency can be found in them?
Look for the truth, especially about people. Don’t settle for someone else telling you what to think.