Now that we’re past the elections, ethical behavior has become legal again and even encouraged by some. At the same time, we’re apparently coming up on the end of the world, presuming you’re not so good at math (http://edj.net/mc2012/truezone.htm ), ancient history (http://www.history.com/news/ancient-maya-calendar-calculations-found-on-dwelling-walls ), or critical thinking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events ), so I do think it’s best we all learn how to get along with each other, whether we’re destined to perish in a monstrous ball of flaming planet or just doomed to spend the rest of our lives together.
I’m putting this out here so you don’t have to be as hard-headed as I was and take more than 40 years to figure this stuff out. It’s not rocket science, but it’s more useful in everyday life. Unless you actually are a rocket scientist, in which case… is there any way I can go on a ride-along someday?
So here they are, the fundamental principles for understanding humans and being around them without getting smacked upside the head.
1. No one is perfect.
You’re not either, so get off your high horse and stop acting like you are. It’s not attractive and it just makes you look like a jerk and people will think twice before giving you mouth-to-mouth when they pull you, lifeless, out of the pool next 4th of July, assuming they pull you out in the first place. “You do it.” “No, you do it!” “No way! He’ll just say I screwed it up, so forget it!”
2. Everyone is wrong sometimes. Even you.
Man, I hate this one. I really do have a problem with being wrong, especially when it means someone else is right, and you can see the “Ha!” grin starting at the corners of their mouth and spreading over their whole face. But look at that smile. It feels good to be right, so let them have it when they really are.
3. No one is 100% good or 100% evil.
This one is rough too. I want the world to be black and white without all of those nasty shades of gray that force me to make real live ethical decisions. But even the best of us have something that makes us all too human, even if it’s just booger-flicking when no one is around. And the worst of us have some redeeming quality. Somewhere. A lot of people are just really good at hiding it, though.
4. No one knows everything, and you can learn something from everyone.
Yes, everyone. Even your little nephew with the snot bubble that expands and contracts when he breathes. He’s a living example of how to truly not care about how you look or whether your clothes are from the latest designer or whether the world is ending tomorrow. He’s all wrapped up in play, and that’s something many of us need to learn again.
5. You can disagree with people while still believing they are intelligent and respecting them.
I have good friends and family that are so opposite politically to me that they make Kanye West and Taylor Swift seem like long lost twins separated at birth. Look it up if you have to (http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1621389/kanye-west-crashes-vma-stage-during-taylor-swifts-award-speech.jhtml ). I had no idea you could have multiple polar opposites, but apparently my loved ones have found a way. And the thing is, while I still don’t agree, they all make some very intelligent arguments, and they all mean well. None of them feel the way they do because they’re ignorant or cruel or they wouldn’t be in my life in the first place. I still have absolute love and respect for them, even though I’m the only one that’s really right…
6. You never truly know anyone’s motives, even your own.
“Why?” is one of the toughest questions. Why did they do that? Why didn’t anyone stop them? Why are they like that? You’ll rarely get a good answer. I could have told you why I did things 20 or 30 years ago, but in hindsight, I would have been wrong. Okay, I know this is really complicated, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one. You can ask yourself what your motives are, then look back on your younger self and know it wasn’t actually that. You didn’t really drop out of school because the teachers were mean. You didn’t really hang out with that girl because you thought she was a great person. But that’s what you told yourself back then, and if you can’t even figure out your own motives in the here and now, how on earth do you think you can tell why the guy across the street mows his lawn in his boxers every Thursday at noon? Don’t even try. Just let him be. Unless he switches to tighty-whities, and then I’d be asking him to maybe spend a little more time at the gym. And lay off the Krispy Kremes a bit, too.
7. Your life as an adult is your own fault.
I’m not saying your childhood didn’t stink. I’ve heard some pretty good horror stories over the years and if you had one of those, you have my utmost sympathy. That’s just plain wrong. But you are an adult now, and you have to treat yourself right in the here and now. That means making decisions to better your life, taking credit for the good things you do and owning up to the stupid mistakes, then learning to make better ones. It’s all on you now.
8. Life isn’t fair, but I’ll be damned if I’ll stop trying to make it so.
It’s not fair. As much as I know this fact, I hate it. Someone somewhere was born wealthier, prettier, smarter, kinder, with the genes for bigger boobs and more of a verbal filter than I could ever hope to have short of a brain transplant, but it’s the truth for everyone, not just for me. And I will continue to fight for reasonably level playing fields (NOT gold stars just for showing up – work for what you want) and root for the underdog. It’s what makes life good. No one bats an eye if the Steelers make it to the Superbowl… again. But there’s going to be some cheering in Seattle if the Seahawks ever make it. Okay, and in my house too.
9. Don’t be an ass.
How simple is that? We all know what asses act like, so don’t pretend you don’t know when you’re being one. If I don’t act like an ass and you don’t act like an ass and the guy down the street doesn’t act like an ass and the politician doesn’t act… well, you know what I mean. It’s feasible except in extreme cases like politics, and then it’s more of a fantasy. But I still think it’s key!
10. I mean it – just don’t be an ass.
I’m absolutely serious. That’s why it’s on here twice. It’s that important. I would have made it #1 on the list, but then I wouldn’t have had a list at all other than “Don’t be an ass”, and that’s no fun, so I just saved the best for last. So, yeah. Don’t be one, and I won’t be one either and we’ll all get along just fine until the end of the world or the Seahawks make it to the Superbowl, whichever comes first. I’m betting on the flaming planet hurtling through space, but I’m definitely rooting for the Seahawks.