A “good person” is a pretty vague and open-ended term. It may even be subjective.
It hasn’t been a perfect journey, but I’ve always tried to be one. I’m still figuring out what is definitive when it comes to being good or bad. I mean, there’s obviously a general sense of not being shitty and awful, being caring to the people around you, not taking advantage of the self check out if you can afford it, and so on. But what has always confused me is that many people who I consider “good” are often silent when it comes down to a situation where they can vanquish their “bad” people counterparts.
The reason this confuses me is because I’ve always lived with the belief that it’s necessary to teach others about subjects they may be ignorant about. This is simply because we live in the future and not in a time where it’s acceptable for ignorance to just be a shoulder shrug and a skip forward onto your day. No one can be faulted for being naive, but I think we can all be faulted for not stepping in and spreading knowledge.
Today, I was in a long ass line at your typical yuppie grocery store. The suit in front was being horrendous to the cashier. She was an older lady, clearly struggling with her English, and likely had just started her job. As he went on to treat her like human garbage for being unable to ring through his organic produce, everyone else looked away and waited silently for his wrath to end. Including me. I thought about it. I thought about walking right up to him and kicking him in the leg, giving an inspirational speech, everyone else clapping and saving the cashier lady’s day all while giving her hope for humanity. I didn’t do it. I just thought about it.
I waited my turn, and when it was finally time for me to go up I apologized for his behaviour. She gave me a small smile, but my words clearly did not make her feel any better, and they shouldn’t have. She’s been through it, she knows people are shitty and she probably has to deal with pretentious douchebags all the time. Welcome to the big city, immigrant lady.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been reprimanded for calling people out on their shit, but now I know that I shouldn’t stop. I regret it every time I do. People, both in real life and on the internet, have called me various names for speaking my mind on why assholes should stop being assholes.
While, yes, my words do sometimes come from a place of anger, they also come from a good place. A place where I just expect more from humanity, and just sitting there and being disappointed isn’t fulfilling to me. I think doing so would make me a bad person.
In high school, I was about the same amount of opinionated as I am now, except no one wanted to hear anything I had to say, so I just had to think it. I graduated in 2009, so not exceptionally long ago. One Halloween, a few guys in my class came to school decked out in black face make up. I mentioned something to one of my friends who just told me I was being a buzzkill. I shrugged it off and skipped along with my day. I regret that.
After growing up a bit and realizing that you know what, fuck all those people, I started to stop censoring myself for the comfort of assholes and instead started speaking my mind.
I wish that I had gone up to that dude in the grocery store and told him to leave the cashier alone and stop taking his various issues out on her. I wish I had told him that listen, my mom came here with little to no English vocabulary and had to support my family by doing the same job. Dicks like him were the reason she would come home upset after working a 12 hour shift. It wasn’t the job, it wasn’t the hours, it was the way she was often treated. I regret not doing so.
But what I’m taking away from it is this: people come in all different mindsets. Some will agree with yours, some will even elevate you and help you grow. However, some need you to be the person that teaches them a thing or two. Sometimes you can do it kindly, and sometimes you have to throw it back in their faces. Being a good person isn’t always about how much money you donate to your charity of choice, or how open-minded you are about human rights, sometimes it’s as simple as helping the asshole in front of you become less of an asshole.
I’m often wrong, and I’m always learning. And for that, I am thankful. There’s nothing I love more than when someone calls me out on my bullshit, because I need it. In order for me to develop as a person and become the good person I one day hope to fully see in myself, I need to be told when I’m wrong. Do it for me. I will do it for you too. We should do it for everyone. You become a part of the problem as soon as you start walking away from a situation that you could have bettered.
We, as a world, have come a long way. Yes, there are still terrible things happening everywhere and it’s not hard to sit down and think about it and become severely depressed. But holy shit, the world is still magnificent. We’ve just entered this awkward place of being politically correct to the point of being passive, and that is harmful.
The reason we’ve come this far in the first place is because of people who refused to stay silent. They changed the world. We may not all capable of single-handedly starting a revolution, but in your everyday life you have an enormous power. That power is to just being vocally honest and teaching one another. That, to me, is the biggest part of being a good person.