5.30.2009

The Art of Decency

I never understood the difference between a good man and a bad man.  To me, all people had the same mindsets.  And by people, I mean the ones that were in my particular demographic (I suppose).  I grew up in the usual basically suburban, mostly white, middle class area.  And to me, everyone here was decent.  People helped each other and cared about each other.

I know what it means to not be decent.  And it is far different than what I expected.

It has little to do with someone being good or bad, though these are certainly indicators.  It has everything to do with the decisions that one makes on a daily basis.
While at home, I saw the acts of decent men and women every day.  And to me that was normal.  I thought that everyone was like that.  I saw people who were putting their own desires far behind responsibities, other people's needs, and countless other things.  In fact, many times personal desires seemed to almost vanish. 
The "easy way" was not an option unless it was entirely legal, beneficial, and entirely better.  Of course, sometimes the hard way was done simply to build character.

Building character.  It took me a very long time to understand what this really meant.  For me, it meant "manning up."  The more character I had, the more respect I was garnered from others.  Not because I had accomplished so much.  No, it was because I had gone through whatever trial and could now help one more person.  Character was what gave the qualities necessary to help others, not a medal to add to a trophy wall.

And now I return to that realm of decency.  After two years and that pit of filth, I realize what the difference is: here, I live with decent people.  But not everyone in that other place was fortunate as I to have grown up in such a place.

I say filth not to condemn the people, but the situations.  And I mention my upbringing not to glorify myself or those that were involved.  No indeed.  Once leaving home, I spat upon my upbringing, losing many good qualities that I did not realize were so vital.

What happened to sincerity?  What happened to doing good because you know it's right?  What happened to honesty and charity?  Where are the heroes that fought for us, showing us how to live and how to be righteous, just, and honorable in the face of adversity?

I used to be good.  I used to do good work just because it needed to be done.  I used to be "the guy you bring home to your parents."  I used to consider myself to be a good role model.  But I don't feel like I'm any of that anymore.

Once again I am reminded what it means to be decent.  I have decent people around me now, and they show me by example.  They show me how to be selfless, how to be generous in giving and cautious in taking.  How to be efficient, polite, and cherish everyone that I meet.

Perhaps this summer will be different.  Maybe I shall regain my humanity and become decent once again.

So for you who is looking to become decent, I suggest this humble advice: give all that you have to everyone that you see.  Only reveal that of yourself which is beneficial, wholesome, and uplifting to all.  Focus on the positive and banish the negative and impure thoughts.  And most importantly, fear nothing.  Nothing is too big to handle or too small to ignore.  Take everything with a grain of salt, but be trusting an trustworthy.  Be the hero.  Not for your glory, but for the good of the people that are being helped.