By Tom Henry | as published in the June 10, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News
“I care more about the people in books than the people I see every day,” Jo Walton
Why is that? When we read a good book, it is rarely the plot that drives us on. It is the characters that we meet and fall in love with along the way. The plots of most books are as predictable as the times and seasons, but it is the characters that blow us away.
The truth is, we are all living out our own novels. We are all central characters in the plot of life and each of us have multiple antagonists along the way. Every writer knows that their characters must have flaws, peril, growth and eccentricities. Otherwise they are no longer characters – they are caricatures.
Likewise, each of us are flawed, face peril, face obstacles and must grow in order to overcome. Likewise, we are all just a bit odd. Sometimes it is as simple as a person not being able to step on the cracks of a sidewalk. But sometimes it is a talented employee that refuses to take any risks or allow their talent to fully shine before others. Others might include not being able to disagree with a group…ever!
Why is that particular guy always so serious? Why is that person so mistrusting? Why is that guy always clowning around?
One study shows that communication is only seven percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal. Of that non-verbal component, 55 percent is body language and 38 percent is tone of voice.
My point is this. The people around us are fascinating. Some are jerks and some are flakes, but they are all fascinating. There is at least some good in just about every person. There is a kind childlike person inside us all and there is a wounded person inside of us all. But we ultimately want the same thing…to be understood, to be celebrated and to not be hurt. There is uniqueness in everyone – a real treasure trove. The problem is, one must really invest into a person and dig deep to find it. We must earn their trust before they will open up. Intimacy means “into me see,” but no one will open up until they feel safe.
The “better angels of our nature” are almost always hidden behind tempers, fears, walls of protection, masks of position, and much more. We all, to varying degree, wear masks and walk around trying to play a role that is not the real us. We take our identities in what we do.
Also, too often our preconceived ideas blind us to where we should be looking for treasure. How many times have we all been guilty of judging a book by its cover? Or how many times have our judgmental attitudes or conditioned beliefs made us abandon our search? Treasures very rarely come packaged in the way we expect them to be.
Let me give a few examples:
The odd, timid woman that can’t look guys in the eyes, might really be the strong lady that was abused by a male figure for so long that she is terrified to trust again…but she hasn’t given up and she hasn’t hidden away in her home.
The blunt, outspoken man that has very little patience with politically correct, flowery words might really just be a person that is on a mission and doesn’t trust people, so in his own weird way, feels that if people are going to abandon him eventually, why not speed up the process without wasting much of his time.
The miserly old man that over protects all of his possessions and is afraid of loss, might not be greedy and selfish, he might have simply lived through the depression in such desperately poor conditions that he remembers what it is like to have nothing and fears a return.
Maybe that mean, difficult teacher is not really picking on you, but rather is the only one that really believes in you and is pushing you to be all they see that you can be.
Our world seems to move too fast. We are constantly being bombarded with stimulus and unimportant, self-imposed demands that steal our treasure hunting time. We really have to get ourselves turned around, our heads on straight and we must see that the people around us were put there by God for a reason and that we must not be too busy living to actually live. Our life is truly the sum total of our relationships, not the accumulation of our things.
I challenge you to go meet someone today. Take the time to find out what makes a person tick. Treasure hunt until you find what is truly valuable in each person. Learn from them. Spread the love. Become a part of a community not a posse.
Also, if you are the scourge on our society that feels that being indifferent, tough, uncaring, selfish, greedy, evil, take-what-you-want and a “to heck with others” punk…then stop right now. The life you have right now is the result of the life you created. And as the years pile on, the harvest you will reap from those seeds of destruction will grow very rapidly. It is not too late, but you must sow the right seeds now.
If you died right this second, have you accomplished anything that you really want to be remembered for? Have you justified your use of oxygen and time on this planet?
Be the bigger person, do what you were created to do and add value to the world – not just take from it. Be a force of light and good for the world. No one is really impressed with how bad you can be. Real strength comes at a price and that price is not the initiation into some gang or posse, it is the strength that is required to stand against the flood of evil in the world and to say “no more…not on my watch!”