I keep wondering what the hell is wrong with people. I ask why I seem to be the only one who is always willing to stop and help. I can’t understand why others aren’t as giving.
My mom says I have a crusader’s heart, and I look for battles, always “tilting at windmills”, making mountains out of molehills and fighting for the point-of-the-matter long after it even matters anymore.
My hubz says I just have really high standards to which I hold not only myself, but the rest of the world as well, and that if I don’t lighten up and let people off the hook, I’m going to die an early death.
They both say, “People are just people, you know?”
I say they are both right, but only to some degree, at which point they are both extremely WRONG. The point-of-the-matter ALWAYS matters. It doesn’t expire. That’s why it’s called “the point-of-the-matter”. Because it might be something small, but it represents something much, much bigger. Something important. Something it’s too hard to change, so everyone just instead looks away.
And why should I let people off the hook? If I don’t hold people accountable for messing things up, for refusing to make changes, for allowing horrible atrocities, who will? It seems I am a small voice of reason surrounded by insanity.
And yes, I know, people are just people. But shouldn’t they want to be MORE than “just” anything? And if they don’t, why shouldn’t I continue to be disappointed?
I believe the majority of humans currently suffer from Moral Dystopia,
a phrase I am borrowing from an article I read recently on this very topic: “Violence and Moral Dystopia on the L Train” by Bindu wiles ( @binduwiles ). In this article, the author describes a situation in which she witnesses some thug-looking guy beating up on another dude, while everyone else sits and watches — doing nothing to stop the tussle.
“I shouldn’t have been the only one
to stand up on that train
and scream my head off
to get the violence to stop.”
In Jeff Goins’ new book Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life, the Introduction describes a similar but non-violent lack of social empathy. He and his wife attend performances at which a local printer creates poster memorabilia. Missing their chance to buy one which bears the date of their anniversary, thus making it a special evening indeed, he offers various patrons the opportunity to sell their posters so he may present one to his wife. No one will budge. Everyone assumes someone else will step up and do the nice thing — get up off your poster and give it to someone, for no other reason than that it means something.
“It seemed everyone was saying,
‘I’m sure someone
will do the right thing.
It’s just not me.’”
And why? Because, as Goins indicates, the patrons each offered a variation of,
“I’m sure someone will help you.”
Why is it so fucking hard for people to do what’s right? Even my hubz — the sweetest guy on the planet, truly — had to be chastised by me to stop and offer help to people on the side of the road. His reasoning was, “I’m sure they have a cell phone,” or, “I’m sure someone else is already on the way,” or, “I’m sure the police have already been contacted on their behalf.”
The thing is, I have been on the side of the road, stuck without a cell phone, wishing even one person would stop. It shouldn’t be such a damn surprise when finally somebody DOES step up and do the right thing. But it is. After so many cars whiz past, by the time one stops, it is a shock. I have ALMOST been trained to NOT expect kindness of heart and generosity of spirit.
This is what I am most angry about. People who know me well say I am the angriest person they know. But THIS is why. Moral Dystopia. I am angry because you humans continue to disappoint me.
The consequences of not doing the right thing
were not only social,
but deeply emotional and psychological.
We couldn’t bear to live with ourselves.
Now we experience morality more as a choice
that we can always change as circumstances call for it.
We tend to personalize our ideals.
And what you end up with
is a nation of ethical free agents.”
What happened? Why is everyone so afraid to break the silence, to go the extra mile, to stand above the mediocre and be heroic? We’re given a chance to do the right thing almost every day. Why don’t we do it?
who betrays the institution;
whistleblowers are always the weirdos.
There are so many ways to rationalize
doing the easy thing.
And it’s really easy for us to overlook
how our inaction to step up
and do even the simplest thing
leads to profoundly destructive consequences
in our society.”
Wake the fuck up, people. Be the weirdo. Pick up the trash that isn’t yours. Give away your last whatever. Make the phone call that saves someone’s life. Run into the burning building.
Blake Snyder wrote a book called Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need. It’s pretty terrific even if you aren’t writing a script. I’m using it with my novel. About the title of his book, he says,
They don’t put it into movies anymore.
And it’s basic.
It’s a scene where we meet the hero
and the hero DOES something
— like saving a cat —
that defines who he is
and makes us, the audience,
Go do something. Save the cat. Make me like you.