Friday, October 17, 2008

Eyes Wide Open

The greatest discovery of this generation is that a human being can alter their life by altering their attitude. William James
Attitude. We've all got it. We all project it. And sometimes, it gets in our way.

Who hasn't heard the question, Is your cup half full or half empty? George Carlin once replied when asked if he saw a half empty or half full cup, "I see a glass twice as big as it needs to be."

It's all in our attitude.

But where does attitude come from? And what do we do when it needs an adjustment?

When I was with Conrad, (see The Dandelion Spirit), he used to tell me that one of my problems (and he had many for me) was that I didn't believe in evil. Didn't believe people were capable of 'being bad'.

Now, I will attest to the fact that I believe 99% of human beings are fundamentally good. At our core lives the essence of brilliance that creates our most magnificent selves. I believe the journey through childhood into maturity is about reclaiming that magnificence with which we were born. And I believe, if given the opportunity, we would all rather do good than harm.

In Conrad's perspective, all people were born to be bad. In challenging me on my belief in the fundamental goodness of the human being, he set out to prove I was wrong. In my disbelief, in my refusal to face reality, that there are some people in this world who live in the shadow, in the dark side of human being, I was at risk of Conrad's manipulations. Because I refused to accept some people are evil, I could not accept he was doing evil.

In my awakening, I was given the gift of sight. Yes. There is evil in this world and people willing and capable of furthering it. With eyes wide open, I was able to step into the truth of what happened to me, of what I did, of what he did. I was able to face reality, forgive him and love myself, warts and all.

I work in a world where evil is perpetrated on vulnerable people every day. I work in a world where people have lost their inner light. Untethered from the mores and values of a just and caring society, they wander the streets, aimless and directionless, without a moral compass to guide them home. Huddled beneath the shadow of towering skyscrapers and back alleys, they encounter evil every day and become their worst fears; a fallen human being willing to do anything to stay alive, including abusing drugs, alcohol and each other, in order to numb the pain of their existence.

In their crumbled state, their attitude of defeat gets in their way of finding the light to guide them home, back to where they belong.

Stuck in the shadows, they begin to believe, the world is against me. There is no hope. I am worthless.

And in their belief; this is all I'm worth, they buy into the myth that we live in a world of evil. Everybody's doing it. Why not me?

Everybody is not evil. This is not an evil world. Evil does exist -- call it badness, narcissism, psychopathy, self-centeredness, cruelty. Whatever you call it, it is behaviour fostered by an attitude of entitlement that leads people to do evil.

Was Conrad evil? I believe he has a 'bad attitude' fostered by a perspective of life that says, what 'I want is what I deserve. Getting it is all that counts. And I will do anything to get what I want, regardless of the consequences to anyone else'.

I believe there are many people in this world who share that bad attitude. People for whom what they want is all that counts, to hell with the consequences, to hell with the impact upon other people, upon our world.

I can't change anyone else's attitude. I can adjust mine. In a time where the world appears to be spinning out of control, where markets tumble and fortunes crumble, I take a breath and remind myself -- I can't stop the world. Can't change it. I can change my attitude to make a difference in my world today. I can be the light I am seeking.

Life is an adventure worth living. It is a constant journey into peace, love and joy that moves me closer to my brilliant core, my life force that says, "I am one magnificent human being, being all I'm meant to be by making a difference in a world of abundance."

The question is: What's your attitude? Where's it taking you?


CZBZ said...

I was told today that I had a 'bad buttitude' since it was time for me to gripe about my weight AGAIN. I think it's a cycle at this point.

As long as I keep trying though, one day I'll wake up lighter than a dandelion and fly to Canada to visit a tree. I mean, a friend.

Louise, I have never been fond of calling people 'evil' or even thinking about evil as a possible explanation for people's behavior. Only recently have I started reading about Evil and how it's being defined with 21st Century terms.

You Wrote: "In Conrad's perspective, all people were born to be bad."

I heard the same story from the biggest N i've met in my life: that people were basically BAD at heart and had to be forced to be GOOD.

You see, that was so contrary to my perceptions of reality that I didn't take him seriously since I believed all people were good and wanted to be good. I discounted his self-revelation because whenever something sounds too wack-a-doo, we dismiss it rather than believe this person is actually SERIOUS about what they're saying.

He was telling me about himself and I was telling him about me and as our story goes to show: two wrongs don't make a right.

Some people are just plain BAD at heart; and some people are just plain GOOD at heart but all people are neither all the time. Had I known there were people who intentionally harmed others (because it gave them pleasure and power to do so), I'd not have been naive. Like a sitting duck I was.

Do some people intentionally and maliciously harm other people simply because they can?


Duh...I did not know that.

One more comment about the work you do with the homeless. I've noticed people's reactions to the vulnerable homeless people in our city. Some people empathize with them and are kind though avoid direct involvement. But some people become aggressive and brutish towards the homeless and I never figured out 'why'.

Recent studies on narcissism link vulnerability and aggression together. That really got me thinking!! It's a viable explanation for why some peole think "Homeless Jokes" are funny. Or any oppressed group joke is funny. It might also explain the STRANGE behavior some people exhibit towards the homeless and other vulnerable people. They become even more aggressive and cruel.

That never made sense to me my whole lifetime, but if I'm understanding psychological research correctly, this offers us an explanation.


Anonymous said...


if we take out the Conrad paragraphs and re-order it a bit, I think there is a very good upbeat motivational piece here . .

may I edit and publish on ?


M.L. Gallagher said...

Yes Mark -- taking those paragraphs out for a more general audience would be ideal.



M.L. Gallagher said...


You are such a woman of wisdom! A WOW and a WOW!

Evil is a word that always made me feel uncomfortable. Still does -- but I'm getting better at accepting its worth. Scott Peck's People of the Lie, was a bit step for me to read -- particularly when he speaks of our shadow side -- as you said, we're not all good all the time -- and not all bad all the time, but there are those who prefer to hideout in the shadows doing the bad they can cause they want what they want, real bad!

Nice to see you CZ -- can't wait till you come up here and visit the trees :)

And, yes, when it comes to homelessness, people can be rather harsh. I have found that for some, coming into the shelter, educating themselves, learning more -- helps. And, you have inspired me about what I will write this morning -- so read on MacDuff!

Love you!


CZBZ said...

If we think about our childhood experiences in the schoolyard, we can remember incidents of bullying. Bullies targeted the most vulnerable kids, kids they perceived to be weaker and therefore inferior.

Most of us learned to act tough, to never cry, to fit in if at all possible. Otherwise, we’d be subjected to the humiliation of flying spitballs sticking in our hair or having our chair pulled out from under our behinds.

This happened all the time when I was a kid who didn't get picked on and didn't bully people either, even when it would have been rewarding to do so. I had plenty of fights with friends but hey, they were just as strong as myself.

There may be life lessons in examining how we reacted as kids because bullying has been around for a long, long time.

I figure you for one of those 'nurturing types' like myself. You probably rushed over to a victim with your first-aid kit and soothed their hurt feelings because you were willing to empathize with them. Now we're grown-ups and what choices do we make when we see vulnerable people being treated disrespectfully? Or people being bullied by narcissists who increase their aggression once their victim is on the ground?

I think we both have first-aid kits in hand, and the healing touch of compassion. We don’t even ask the question, “Who’s Problem is it?” We grab the band-aids and do whatever we can to get that person back on their feet.

Love ya back!