By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
I never much cared for the theological theory of original sin, that somehow we are born deeply ingrained to prefer the bad choices over the good and that from the get-go we need to be saved from that. I rather prefer a theory of original goodness from which we can always stray but can always regain. And sometimes we need the agency of a Higher Power to retain the goodness latent in everyone. That said, I tend to think that almost everyone ain’t no good no how. It’s easier to think that way. It leads to less disappointments. Nonetheless, goodness is often manifest and I’m always hoping and looking for it. I love to be surprised by goodness, especially in myself. Bad people have goodness in them; it just didn’t get out often enough and, in some cases, not at all.
There will always be ornery bad actors among us. Some of them are so bad, they must be put away for the good of the majority who tend to be “pretty good,” not greatly good but O.K.
There will always be saints among us. Some will be temporarily saintly and then slide back to only pretty good. A very few will be always saintly. As far as I can see, this won’t change even when the bad actors gain a lot of power for a while, until the pretty good folk listen to the saints and clean house.
When I was young, my mother often said I was cantankerous. She also said that “I had better straighten up and fly right or she would give me medicine I won’t soon forget.” (The discipline of wayward children breeds mixed metaphors.) I understood cantankerousness in terms of what I had done or left undone. Later on, I understood my cantankerous ways in terms of ill-tempered civil disobedience and willful unacceptance of the status quo, especially when the status quo does not even merit the judgement of “pretty good” most of the time. In all of this, I leaned that I had better be a bit better than pretty good myself, if I was going to be an ill-tempered critic of the pretty bad folks. (I’m probably losing my readers here and I don’t blame them at all.)
This comes to history. We don’t learn from it, because too few of us respect it and too many of us don’t know anything about it anyway. So, history repeats itself. It seems that the only changes in history are the tools we choose to make it and the means we employ to talk about it. For sure, we are always astonished when history repeats itself, as though we didn’t see it coming and it’s a sign of the end of the world and some new conspiracy must be afoot. Maybe there is something to that theory of original sin. Nonetheless, I’m holding on to original good.
These days, when we ponder all of the bad things that are occurring, we can have a great sense of urgency to fix that which is threatening like the virus and social injustice and unrest. We can also have a sense of hopelessness. We feel that the world desperately needs changing, but that we are not equipped to change it. Exactly, how do we use media in an ethical way? In so many issues, too many, how do we come together and not tear apart?
I believe (not just think) that we each are called to change our own hearts. Everyone, most of us only nearly being pretty good, have attitudes and ingrained notions that need changing for the good. If enough of us change our hearts for the good and let that form and reform our actions, history just might enjoy a reprieve. Unleash the original good. And, put that cantankerousness on a leash.