“Lemon, what happened in your childhood to make you believe that people are good?”
In real life, there’s often a disconnect between the things that people say and the facial expressions they display. When Jack speaks, there’s no ambiguity in his message.
I laugh every time that I hear that line because – while I’ve never been asked that question, in that way – I recognize the look that comes with it.
It’s a look of confusion.
“How could you be so naive? People are bad. Don’t you know that?”
There’s plenty of evidence to support this world view. Nearly everything in the media confirms the notion that people are bad. Stories featuring people doing good are rare, so expecting people to be good is like carrying an umbrella every day. You’ll manage to stay dry when it rains, but you risk looking like an idiot the rest of the time.
It’s a look of derision.
“You poor misguided fool, you must be a liberal.”
The wearer of this look believes that I must have blinders on which prevent me from seeing the obvious. They offer as proof: high crime rates, the corruption of the powerful, and the abuses by beneficiaries of social programs – welfare recipients, the unemployed, etc.
They insist that a helping hand is no better than a handout, because people are largely lazy, shiftless beings who are always looking for an easy out.
It’s a look of evolution.
“I used to be like you, but not anymore.”
A person wearing this look feels that he’s pulled enough knives out of his back to know better. He’s taken the instances where people have acted badly and projected those characteristics onto everyone going forward. He’s evolved, so he safeguards his interests, because no one else will. He knows that it’s just a matter of time before I come to know the sad truth about people that he’s already learned.
If you’ve given me this look, in any of its forms, don’t worry – I won’t hold that against you.
I understand how easy it is to lose faith in humanity, so I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong if you feel that way. I will tell you that there’s no need to be confused by someone, like me, who refuses to abandon his neighbor, even when he disappoints. I’ll ask that you don’t deride my belief in the capacity of people to be selfless when doing things for others, because I’ve seen many examples. If you think about it, I’m certain that you have too. To evolve is to change for the better; to progress and develop. Efforts to achieve our shared objectives are hampered when we are false with one another, with either our words or our faces.
Our expressions may only hint at what we’re really thinking, but there would be a lot less room for speculation if our words more often bore a resemblance to what we said with our faces.
- Are you okay with “putting on a face” in social situations?
- Do you believe that it’s effective?
- How do you react if you are called on it?
A special thanks to Brown for coming up with the perfect song to go with this post, which eluded me when I first put it up.