I want to believe in the goodness of people. I always have, you know. I believe that people are possessed of a powerful good despite all I have lived through. “For someone who doesn’t believe in God, you have a lot of faith in people,” a friend once said.
“Because that’s all I have to believe in,” I answered.
This fall has tested my faith. People cried over Sandy, then went right back to idling their cars and buying piles of useless crap. We’ll deal with global warming as long as it doesn’t cut into our Walmart trips.
Then there was Newtown. That the gun lobby – paid for by the gun manufacturers – could respond to the slaughter of teachers and children with a call for more guns makes me nauseous every time I think about it. I try to bring the thought to the surface of my mind in tiny, frequent snippets in order to inure myself to it. It’s not working.
People starved by the anarchy in Syria heard there might finally be bread. They lined up outside a bakery. And dozens of them were bombed to death.
Oh, my god, as if the Bushmasters haven’t caused enough damage lately, there’s the crazy man who set a fire in Webster, NY, and then shot at the first responders.
If I believed in God, I’d have given up by now. But I believe in people.
Did you hear that the cops in Newtown all had Christmas off because the police officers in neighboring towns filled in for the day?
I have a friend whose elementary school principal moved his desk into the front hallway so that if a copycat shooter came in, he’d be there first.
Our school math specialist pulled me aside last Monday. “I was hoping Benjamin hadn’t heard, because he already has so many fears.”
And Zia, the brother of a friend of mine. He’s a chef in New York and a resident of Staten Island. He’s been buying supplies for his neighbors and delivering food to those who’ve lost everything. He’s doing it all out of his own pocket, so if you want to help him continue to serve the community hit by Hurricane Sandy, here’s the link to donate.
We are such a complicated, fragile species. We have the capacity for such great good and the ability to do unbelievable harm to one another. Our brains need only the slightest tweak in the wrong direction to turn geniuses into psychopaths.
I continue to believe in people. I choose to continue to believe in people.