Here’s a pessimistic point of view: People are assholes.
The older I get, the more I seem to notice them—which is either because the more time I’m alive the more I increase my odds, or because that god damn Certain Dri deodorant is actually some kind of dick magnet.
Or, you know, maybe it’s the internet. As a tool that’s given a population of people one big, fat pink slip to run around screaming, “Me! Me! Me!” all the live long day, I suppose when they re-enter the real world and it’s not “Me! Me! Me!” it can provoke a mood.
Either way, it seems that there’s an entire cadre of self-entitled little shits springing up, and I gotta be honest: It’s terrifying.
There’s a lot of, “let’s disrupt THIS! and let’s disrupt THAT! and oh my god would you look at the size of my Keurig?”
There’s a lot of, “Oh, you actually expected me to do the work you paid me to do?”
There’s a lot of, “I’m the best! …and don’t you dare question my qualifications.” Because, “fake it ’til you make it, baby!” (I want to sucker punch the eyeballs out of the person who came up with that phrase.)
Not to mention all of the liberties people take these days online, offline, whenever it happens to suit them. Like, no you cannot just MAKE UP TESTIMONIALS. What? The fact I even need to write that sentence is terrifying.
It’s like the internet needs to start coming with an HR handbook for all users.
Rule #1: Thou shalt not make false claims.
Rule #2: Thou shalt not swindle.
Rule #3: Thou shalt not steal from others.
Rule #4: Thou shalt not continuously talk about cupcakes.
Which isn’t so much a guidebook for the internet as it is a guidebook for human decency, you know?
I mean, where did human decency go? Is it hiding? Is it on sabbatical? Is it stuffed into god’s sock drawer somewhere?
Where are our values? Our principles? Our sense of right and wrong?
How is it possible that no one seems to have a conscience anymore? That everybody’s only “in it to win it?” That “hustle” has turned into “hustle others?”
And why does nobody seem to mind that they’re living amongst a population of royal assholes?
I suppose it’s not that painful until you meet the one or two grand royal assholes who will, at some point or another, come into your life, and, like osmosis, will try to suck you into being one, too. They’ll try to do it by testing you; by pushing you onto the ground and daring you to get up. They’ll try to do it by backing you into a corner; by bullying you until you cover your head with your arms and call a truce. And they’ll try to do it because that’s what assholes are: Self-conscious egomaniacs who feel so out of control, they’ve got to find it any way they can. That’s where you come in.
You won’t see it coming; couldn’t have even suspected.
You’ll be blindsided by their lack of regard for what’s right.
And you’ll be left with no choice but to show your own teeth—or get eaten.
Which, very likely, involves a risk that you, too, will eventually turn into an asshole. And that’s the real reason I wanted to write this post.
Because I desperately, fervently want to urge you not to do that.
To resist the urge to turn into an asshole when you’re confronted by a cadre of them.
To protect your goodness; your softness.
And to stay open-hearted…even when the world is trying to slam its lid right on your left ventricle.
No matter what happens to you in this world—NO MATTER WHAT—you must be prepared to cup that heart of yours in your hands and run, run, run as fast as you can into the night. You must learn to leap over fences and guard your optimism like you’re guarding your life—because you may very well be. You must make off with the little light that still shines inside of you—no matter how dingy and damp the dungeon is that they’re trying to put you in.
And most importantly, you’ve got to remember to do it again and again and again.
Because in a world full of assholes, it’s likely that you’ll have to protect yourself over and over and over again. And in all that protecting, you might get tired; you might be tempted to join the other side. You might say “screw it” and want to fight evil with evil.
But the minute you do that, you haven’t just lost the battle.
You’ve lost yourself.
And, honestly, there’s no asshole on the planet who deserves that trophy.