According to David Foster Wallace, we are all hardwired to think first and foremost of ourselves, and generally the worst of those around us.
For so many of us here and, yes, elsewhere, we are defined by ourselves and others by the choices we have made. Good, bad, ambivalent-these are what make us who we are.
But does a bad decision really cancel out years of good? Does a bad decision really make a person, at the core, bad?
I choose to believe, as I am allowed, because all things are a matter of interpretation and we construct our own meaning, that human beings are generally at the core good. I choose to believe that bad decisions do not alter this core to such a degree as to allow a person to be written off for mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes. It does not make you a worthless or unworthy, person.
So let’s make a pact, all of us, here and now, to consciously alter our default judgment. Let us judge ourselves and others, by our decisions, with the following Rule. Number One: You and others are wholly and inherently good until such an undeniable string of bad decisions overwhelm the good ones.
Few individuals are ever going to amass such a collection of mistakes enough to outweigh the good.
This is not to say our mistakes should be written off completely. We should fix things we break, pay for what we can, admit our mistakes, and accept responsibility.
But, should we do that, we should allow ourselves to forgive ourselves and by extension, others.
Bad choices do not make you a bad person. That simple.
So I suggest that our mantra, our “this is water” should be: “These are my decisions. And most of them are good.”