Robin Williams threw me for a loop last week. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the guy, so of course I kept writing things about him here. In fact, I think everyone with a blog was writing about him last week. I don’t know if any of us actually contributed much to the overall discussion of Williams’ passing, but I think we all needed to try to deal with it in some way.
My original intent last week, however, was to examine whether bad behaviors could be viewed separately from a person’s overall character. What I mean by that is, if a person’s activities or habits are not good, does that mean they are not a good person, or can what they do be separated somehow from who they are?
Let me recount a story for you from about three years ago, when my dad passed away. A lot of people came up to me and said some very nice things about my dad, my mom, and my family. Not that I wasn’t moved by anything I heard, but I managed to keep myself composed for the most part. The only thing that really broke me down was a statement most guys would love to hear, and it was directed at me: “You’re a good man.”
The reason it bothered me to hear that was because I didn’t think it was true. In fact, I knew it wasn’t true. They didn’t know all the stuff I kept hidden from everybody else. I felt like a screw up and a failure most of the time. I wasn’t a good person at all. I felt guilty even hearing people say that about me.
Flash forward to today when I was having a discussion with someone about not feeling like a very good man. As I was explaining how I didn’t feel I could be a good person because of sins I had been wrestling with for years and years, I was hit with a statement I’ve been chewing on all day: “Why don’t you believe you are a good man and start acting like it?”
At first, I wanted to throw this out as “Build it and they will come” crap, but the more I thought about it the more I realized there was a certain validity to what they were saying. It’s sort of the Megamind syndrome: If you believe you’re the bad guy, you’re going to think all you’re capable of is doing bad things. What if you thought you were actually capable of good deeds, though? What if you thought you could actually be good enough? Would it not only change the way you thought about things, but also the way you did things?
It’s an interesting point to ponder, and one I’m going to be seriously considering. I’m not sure if my depression is the reason for this, but I’ve never had a particularly high view of myself. I’ve never felt very adequate. And my sin, well, my sin is just the worst, you know. Much worse than anyone else’s. All this begs another question: Do I act like I’m no good because deep down I really believe I am no good?
From the aforementioned Megamind to this summer’s smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy, the world seems to be full right now of stories where the bad guys suddenly realize they don’t have to be bad anymore. This causes them to rise up and do noble things. Maybe the world is catching on and getting better. And maybe I need to follow suit.