There has been a struggle of seeing the human factor in people with our generation. We are so out of touch with community, consumed with our Facebook, Instagram, SnapChats, and blogs that we are missing a human connection. We look at a man who knocked up a liquor store on the news, and we categorize him as a “bad” person. We share the story instantly, it climbs in your FB trending news as we talk about what a moron, failure, or terrible person this man was. Why? We probably as children heard about an act like this and innocently asked “Why did that man misbehave like that?” Our parents most likely reply was, “because he is bad.”
I struggle with this theory though. Yes, the act itself was terrible but this one act should not define his entire character. We are not perfect, we are human. We struggle with faults. A mom whose child is thrown from a car because she misadjusted a car seat should not be shamed virally across the globe and called a bad mother. She had misfortunate timing, she made an unfortunate error while our own mothers let us climb in the back seat with absolutely no seat belt at all. We refuse to shame them for being bad. If you feel they were bad, this was most likely not the reasoning behind your claims. We need to pull the plank form our own eye before judging the speck of dust in our brothers’ and sisters’ eyes.
Children cope with the same struggle to differentiate a good person from a bad action. When the discussion of war comes up around B, he is quick to call the opposing forces the “bad guys”. I smile gently and try to point out to him that we are seen as the bad guys to them. This is met with a wall of opposition. J.M. Barrie captured the 6 year old philosophy with his description of Tinker Bell you are all good or all bad, you cannot be both. Good people are winners, they are always kind and giving; they are divine. Bad people are the losers, they take and steal; they are the root of evil.
“Captain Hook is a bad guy!”
“I think Captain Hook is an old man annoyed by a petulant child.”
“Ya he’s bad!”
“I bet he’d be nice to those that are nice to him.”
“No mama Jess,” he laughs at my naivety, “He’s just a bad guy.”
I nod my head ever so gently.
Sports are an even more delicate topic in this split home. B is told that the Bronco’s are the end all be all of Football. We are in Alabama, and although not native my husband and I have embraced our community and root for the Crimson Tide. B repeating something he must have heard at home, “Bronco’s are a real football team, Alabama is not.”
Winning the super bowl didn’t make this battle of wills go any smoother as Peyton Manning is the equivalent to a deity in his eyes. Being more of a JJ Watts kind of gal I like to try to explain to him that everyone has strengths, and everyone has their weaknesses. Being season pass holders to Tennessee Titans we made the mistake of taking B to a game last January, though last January was a rough visit to begin with. This was just when the rumors of Peyton Manning’s drug use was buzzing all around us and B overheard some talk at the stadium about it.
His body tensed all over with an all consuming rage as he screamed, “Peyton Manning is a good guy, he wouldn’t take drugs, they are bad!” I am not personally familiar with Mr. Manning, nor at the time had it been released that these stories were indeed false yet so I worked with what I had. “Peyton Manning is good at a sport, and because most of your time is in Colorado, from your perspective he is the one and only true hero, but he is a person. And sometimes as grown ups we commit dumb acts, and make mistakes, but that doesn’t make him a bad person.”
The reasoning was yet again lost on him as we received a phone call later that month from his mother, angered that we told him Peyton Manning was a bad guy. Of course.
This summer we took the kids to Atlanta for an extended weekend, our final night we made a stop at Medieval Times. For those who are a Medieval Times virgin (as I was until that very night), you are placed in an arena and assigned one of six “domains”. These are designated by color, we were Red & Gold, and we were royalty. As we ate our delicious food with only our hands we were presented with show horses and their amazing stunts. We watched an exotic bird soar about the arena, and than began the jousting!
We were the good guys, B just knew it! And the good guys meant we were the winners. The jousting commenced for a good hour and then it led into fights to the death for the hunt for the ultimate knight. One by one the knights challenged each other. Our knight was valiant, and B was growing more and more enraptured in power with each passing round.
One more fight to victory and something unexpected happen, out of nowhere our knight lost. B was devastated, so much so, he was in tears. “But we were the good guys!”
“B, look at this audience. Look at all the little boys and girls just like you, sitting with their mommy and daddy just like you. Did they think they were the good guys?”
He thought for a moment, tears still streaming down his face. “Oh,” he managed.
“People are not all good or all bad, we just are looking at the arena with different ideas. You are going to have pride in your team, pride because it is your team. I pointed to a little girl on the green team, she is not a bad person, she is just excited for her team, her knight lost long ago, but that does not make her team the bad guys. In life B there are not bad people or good people, but instead bad choices and good choices. There are beliefs that are different. You feel differently about football than me, but I love you anyway; that makes you who you are and I love you no matter your opinions or thoughts.”
And there, physically sitting in a stadium where we had a view of five teams that had a view of us that varied form ours; I could see the light turn on for B. “Although it’s okay to be sad we lost, we are not bad.”
Calming a little, it was time for the winning knight to represent all the kingdoms and fight off this mammoth of a man from an opposing country. Our knight (of course) was valiant, and Josh leaned over to B, “I’m so glad that knight won the duels, because if we did not have his amazing strength we may not have won at all.”
B’s face lit up, “you’re right dad!”
This is day two of Eric’s Taboo Word Challenge
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