January 12, 2017

Are people good at heart?

Recently, I’ve found myself pondering what some consider to be one of life’s biggest questions:

Are people good at heart? 

Many people have firm opinions on this matter. Christians are divided among themselves regarding the topic of original sin. Some believe we come into this world already tainted by sin and corruption, as we are human beings. Others think the act of sinning is a cognizant choice that cannot possibly be made by an individual dependent on others to survive, who cannot even form words yet. Personally, I find it close to impossible to look at an infant and see any ounce of evil. Nevertheless, I am no longer a child and I do not interact primarily with infants. I am a young adult whose day – to – day consists of relationships and conversations with college students and working professionals. With my own life experience and investigation of morality as my lens, I will attempt to answer this aforementioned humongous question.

A concept my dad and I always discussed was the “fork in the road.” Many times throughout my upbringing and still to this day, the metaphor was presented to me by my father as a means to explain the world around me, and spur the making of some tough decisions. Presently, I think it is a great way to explain my position on the root of human beings.

We are born the same, in terms of our hearts. We are innocent, pure, unknowing, and unassuming. Hatred in terms of discrimination, sexism, and superiority have to be taught and cultivated. However, without explicitly defining a timeline, we each come to “the fork in the road.” Here, is where we decide:

Will the ‘default’ setting of my heart be one of purity and joy, or will the darkness that exists in the world be what I automatically fall back on? 

Realizing this made many scenarios and realities clearer for me. Why does it feel as though acts of kindness and forgiveness are so natural for some, but completely foreign, fake, or nonexistent for others? Because one party has chosen a path of light and love to fall back on, and the other has let cynicism, evil, and negativity cloud their perception of the world and weigh down their hearts. A heart that is continually dragging through darkness does not have the capacity or desire to love others in a surreal, unconditional, Christ-like way.

Reading people has always been a strength of mine. Not in a judgmental way, but rather a perception of the energy and intention that exists. It is because of this that I have been able to form incredibly meaningful and dimensional relationships, which I am immensely grateful for. It was not until recently though that I understood the source of the differences I was picking up on.

An individual whose heart is ruled by light and love possesses an almost inhuman level of strength. Day after day, these people reject the notion of: “I’m just one person, why does it matter?” and choose again and again to walk through life in a way that brings joy to others. These people are so strong, and so good, they do not see living any other way as even an option. 

Others have let darkness, pain, and emotional confusion cloud their existence for so long that they have convinced themselves the amount of forgiveness and love shown by the others is idealistic, immature, and idiotic. Why continue to lay your heart on the line when you run the risk of being disappointed or hurt further?

Here is why. Because in the end-love always wins. Always. Only light can drive out darkness. Only optimism and big dreams will create the kind of change we are so desperately in need of.

That being said, nothing is permanent. If during the course of reading this piece you have thought about yourself and come to the conclusion, yes, it is far more natural for me to become angry, or jealous, or hateful than it is for me to be joyful towards others. If you’ve realized that loving and serving those around you really is more of a cumbersome task than it should be – do not lose hope. For as I said before, it is a choice what we allow to be the foundation of our heart.

If you want and need a change, do whatever it takes to make it happen. Meditate more. Go on a wellness retreat. Attend church more regularly. Delete all social media. Begin talking to a counselor and discovering where along the way you let evil preside in your heart. Taking whatever steps are necessary for you, things will improve. You will be happier.

It will not be easy. There will be times where you are lying on your dorm room floor crying because once again, you have put your heart on your sleeve and once again you have been hurt. This is when your best friends, who also have hearts of gold, will pick you up. They’ll carry you until you are okay again. The will ceaselessly remind you that your beautiful heart and ability to feel is your greatest gift. They will not let you blame yourself, or stray away from who you are.

So, here we are. It is 2017. It is time to investigate the content of your heart and the intention of your soul. If you do not like what you find, change it. Work towards a version of yourself that is rooted in good and does not automatically accept corruption and weakness. Surround yourself with people who have beautiful hearts. Choose every day to step towards God and the best version of yourself until it becomes your ‘default.’ It will not be easy. Individuals on both sides of this end of the spectrum that I have discussed have a lot of work to do in vastly different ways.

But I believe in you.

I believe in myself.

I believe in us.

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