Attempting to find meaning in the meaningless, or ‘be excellent to each other’…

The day before yesterday I was in my 5 year old’s kindergarten classroom, looking at the colorful contruction paper backed crayon scribbles, the tiny tables and chairs, the carpet adorned with numbers and letters where they sit, ‘criss cross apple sauce’ for reading circle. It was after school, and my daughter wanted to show me a Christmas themed ‘gingerbread man’ she had made, sitting on the shelf of her little cubby, the paint and glue still wet. Since school was over, we had entered the building through an unlocked side door. Part of me wants to say, ‘that’s as it should be’, and yet the practical, realist part knows that it can’t be.

Humans are predictably unpredictable, the human mind so dangerously complex that even ‘sane, level headed’ people have the capacity to allow themselves to justify actions seemingly out of character. It is what allows people to witness unspeakable things, be them natural disaster, horrific accidents, or war, and then tuck them away, literally forget as a way to cope in order to move ahead and continue to live. It is what allows a happily married four star general to engage in a relationship with his biographer. It’s what allows us to be stern, even angry with our children and in the next moment cradle them in our arms. Humans have forever attempted to define, understand, explain and control the plurality of the mind. It’s what sets us apart from the other animals shuffling around on the planet; the need to explain ourselves.

It is, I suppose, in the name of understanding and compassion that we attempt to control psychologically broken humans with medication and therapy, rather than removing them from the ‘general population’. We argue over who has the ‘right’ to define which humans are too dangerous to play with the rest of the group. It makes me think of the young man who stands on the sidewalk of my little town, sometimes smiling, dancing back and forth, in the midst of a conversation with himself, and sometimes angrily yelling at people driving or walking by. I’ve been told not to worry about him, but he scares the hell out of me. There certainly are different levels of broken, and yet, sadly, I think every single human has the potential to snap and do horrible things to other humans, just as much as I think with hope that they have the potential to not.

So we humans will effort to root out what would motivate another human to kill his own mother, two dozen others, and then himself, as if there could be any justification for that. Maybe the reason we search for that kind of understanding is we are looking for assurance that “I’m not like that guy”. We may not find the comfort we’re looking for in the answer.

Know who you are. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Those are basic. If you have children, love them, give them the respect to expect they make a positive contribution to the overall human condition and guide them in that direction. Try to live in a way that not only won’t overly inconvienence others, but also occasionally smooths their road. Be an example for good, and if you fall short of the mark, own that, and ask for help. As much as I would like to recuse myself from participating with most of the rest of humanity, the fact is, we really are in this together.

Comments are closed.