Sunday, July 12, 2009

Are People Good or Bad?

My parents always thought that only the police and the consequences of society frowning on you kept people from breaking loose and doing all sorts of horrible things. I'm not sure why they felt this way but clearly there must be some traumatic experiences behind their beliefs. My father used to comment that people were aggressive and you had to protect yourself constantly. In spite of their low opinions they often socialized and were very good at it. People liked them and respected them. My mother when they were first married would tell neighbors my father would fix their cars, their furnances or their plumbing. My father was very talented at fixing things. She wanted people to like her, like a little kid giving all his toys away so the other kids would be his friend. My father liked it when he gave people the impression he was intelligent. They clearly wanted things from other people. There is a curious sort of blindness that people have when it comes to other folks. People do not like you because you do things for them, though I expect they feel obligated to be quite friendly. My father would say often that he didn't care what anybody thought about him, but the fact was, he thought about it all the time.
Poor Anne Frank who perhaps wanted no one but herself to read her diary made history by writing that she believed people to be "basically good". This pulls at the heartstrings. The Germans were painted with a brush so black that the German people are still reeling today. The Germans are people just like ourselves I believe. What they did, any people can do. When the German people were starving no one lended them a helping hand and they ended up going to war. I don't see this written about very much, the suffering of the German people and how nobody helped them. It brought out this terrible side to human nature I think.
A friend who was watching the aftermath of Katrina on television told everyone how this policemen said, "It's everyman for himself." This got me to thinking that society, any society could break down if people do not have the means to survive. I thought it funny that all these cameras were down there filming people with relish, getting all that good footage with very expensive equipment when people didn't have water safe to drink or a place to live or food. I found it touching when I heard of people who filled their car with groceries and drove down there. I kinda felt that the newspeople were so excited that so many people were watching them that they had quite forgotten that a tragedy had happened. This was just an impression of mine and just my opinion of course. They did nothing improper. It is rather a feeling I had based on nothing, perhaps it is me believing that people are bad just like my parents.
Because it does come down to belief doesn't it?
I know a churchgoer who tithes. She always gives the church money. However, she owns rental property that is quite dangerous for the people who live there. She throws them out if they can't pay their rent. Is it only me who thinks this is wrong? Well-respected and made much of by the community, her renters are the lower classes and no one thinks much of them. I rather think that these renters believe what she believes, that they are not worthy. They seem to think so. I think belief is very powerful. It makes me think of the Beatles.
The Beatles were quite upset with their fame and fortune. They had wanted to make music and they had wanted of course to make enough money to have a house and one day raise a family. They came from Liverpool and this city was working class poor. John Lennon even remarked that they were too famous and it shouldn't be that way. He remarked that they were more famous than Jesus and had people burning Beatle's records from coast to coast in protest. He didn't mean it they way people thought. He thought that their music was okay, pretty good, but he hadn't expected this wild insane craziness and these huge amounts of money. I think anyone would be a little disconcerted. The Beatles were not rocket scientists, though they had great intuition and wonderful minds they also had innocence. They would greet each other with secret handshakes and code words just to get over the embarrassment of seeing each other. I thought this fact adorable. They were quite vulnerable to the press that came to interview them. I think his words were twisted and they got a much needed lesson that you have to watch what you say. John Lennon was simply saying they were too famous. I was amused to see George Harrision in a television interview before his death stating that the Beatles, "were not that good". This was their belief, that they were pretty good but not that good.
Over the years John Lennon came to accept the idea that he was a musical genius. Their later music was not as memorable as their earlier music to most people though. I think that their innocence had been lost. I read that John put down his guitar for 6 years. I am a fan and I think this a great tragedy. Not only that but he was only 40 years old when he died. In this big bad world there is nothing more precious than innocence, they brought so much happiness to others. I was so excited to see Paul McCartney, just to see him. No one can get over how simple his songs were and yet how much they are loved and remembered.
Their beliefs were to change as people constantly contradicted them. The world is having it's effect on you whether or not you like it or even believe in it. It may be that they still thought of themselves as not that good, people often say what will please others and perhaps John Lennon was tired of the whole subject. It is a testament to them that they didn't believe for so very long what other people told them, they have this integrity and this basic decency. Fame and fortune didn't turn their heads and make them think themselves wonderful. Kudos to the Beatles!
In "Tuck Everlasting" the question is asked "Are people good or bad?" and the reply was "Both".
I think that pretty much sums it up.

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