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Old 18 May 2018, 04:28 PM
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Default The line between a good person with flaws and a bad person

I was just wondering where you (personally) draw the line between what you would consider a good person with flaws and a bad person.

For example, do you consider a person with homophobic beliefs, but one that still does good in the community, is very friendly, etc. a bad person, or a good person with flawed beliefs?

I suppose a corollary to that would be can you separate art from artist when you still consider that artist to be a bad person?
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Old 18 May 2018, 04:36 PM
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Since everyone has flaws, aren't you just asking where the difference between a good person and a bad person is?

For me, its about being unredeemable. Unredeemably bad people are bad people. The rest of us are flawed human beings who do bad things.
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Old 18 May 2018, 05:16 PM
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I'd say that there isn't a hard, easily defined line, but a person's actions are a big part of it.

If a person is homophobic but doesn't make an issue of it, there's not much of a problem. If they're prone to bringing it up and can't take a hint that it's not something anyone else at the table wants to talk about, there is a problem.
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Old 18 May 2018, 05:18 PM
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Or worse, actively harasses/harms/agitates against gay people.
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Old 18 May 2018, 05:26 PM
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If I'm being thoughtful, I'd say the notion of good and bad people is false. I think we can be judged by our actions and our intentions, and we can sometimes make predictions about how a person will behave in the future based on their choices in the past. However, to the extent a person can control his actions, he can always choose to change course and do better, and to the extent he can't control his actions, he should not be judged for them.

But if I'm being honest, I do think in terms of good and bad people. I'll look at two different DV perp clients and think, this guy is basically a good guy who got an unfair shake and made bad choices, and that other guy is just not a good guy. It might be that guy #1 was himself abused and never learned how to relate to others in a healthy way, or that he doesn't seem to be in control, or that he's remorseful, or that I can see how much he loves his children and wants to do right by them even if he's going about it in the wrong way.

I still defend guy #2 because it's my job. But there have definitely been #2s whom I have spoken to and looked into their eyes and not been able to find even a spark of human kindness looking back. Any or all of these might be the result of my own failure to look deep enough or connect or understand. There was a time in my life when I probably couldn't sympathize with any DV perp, and there may come a time in the future when I learn to be more empathetic than I am now.
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Old 18 May 2018, 05:56 PM
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Mister Ed

This reminds me of a Shel Silverstein poem:

Quote:
Zebra Question

I asked the zebra
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Or you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I'll never ask a zebra
About stripes
Again.
I think there's definitely a sliding scale between "Good person" and "Bad person" and no one is ever 100% one or the other, and the great majority of the human race are somewhere in the grey middle. And even then where people fit on the scale is purely a matter of perspective and different people can have very different opinions about certain individuals. Sometimes that's because some people may have different information about what a certain individual is really like but sometimes it's because people place different values on actions and beliefs so they might excuse some actions that would be deal breakers for other people, or they might even approve of certain actions that may disgust other people.
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Old 18 May 2018, 06:01 PM
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I think for me it probably has to do with whether the person is routinely acting either with malice or with reckless disregard for others, or whether they're trying to behave well and sometimes messing up (as do we all) whether from lack of skill, lack of spoons, or lack of good information.

Where the line is in individual cases may well be unclear.

To take your homophobic but otherwise doing good in the community example: I think what I'd be factoring in would be such things as, is the person homophobic in the sense that they personally think 'ick', and/or in the sense that they genuinely believe that their religion says homosexual behavior is a sin, but they recognize that other people have different religious beliefs and different ideas of what's ick and aren't going around harassing anybody over it? Or are they, say, volunteering at the food pantry but trying to keep gay people from accessing the food pantry?
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Old 18 May 2018, 06:17 PM
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Little Pink Pill Little Pink Pill is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
It might be that guy #1 was himself abused and never learned how to relate to others in a healthy way, or that he doesn't seem to be in control, or that he's remorseful, or that I can see how much he loves his children and wants to do right by them even if he's going about it in the wrong way.
(bolding mine)

Beautifully written post, EM. For me remorse or at least openness is key. We’re all learning and, hopefully, evolving as people. We make mistakes and change our minds. Someone who is resolute in their hatred or evil is in a different place than someone who is stumbling along making foolish decisions, or grappling with how ancient religions fit into a modern world.

I can respect people are failing, but trying. I can trust people who can admit they were wrong, or are struggling. But I can’t like deliberate abusers who are hard at the core and never sorry.
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Old 18 May 2018, 08:40 PM
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It gets tricky, though, LPP, because the fact that somebody is saying they're sorry doesn't necessarily mean that they really are sorry.

And then there are the people who really are always sorry Tuesday morning, but who nevertheless keep doing the same thing Monday night.

- when I was a child and messed up, I would say I was sorry, which was true; and my mother would say "Sorry doesn't fix it." I was indignant about that at the time; but I've come to think that she had a valid point -- not about the sort of thing which does happen, such as a klutz* who drops dishes, perhaps, or accidentally stepping on somebody's foot and then getting right off again; but as an overall principle about saying 'sorry' about things that actually make it hard for other people.

I agree that genuine remorse makes a difference; but I think that it needs to both actually be genuine, and to be the kind of remorse that leads to different behaviour in future; at least when the behavior can actually be changed (being sorry you fell asleep when you have narcolepsy, say, can't lead to your guaranteeing to stay awake in the future; no matter how sorry you are, you can't change it. If your illness caused a car accident, though, or looks likely to, you ought to quit driving -- that you can change.)


*I am a klutz who drops things.
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Old 18 May 2018, 09:30 PM
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Is the bar for good person a little low? Leaving people alone in my mind is neutral. Actions that you do that are good for others is how you become a good person.
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Old 18 May 2018, 10:15 PM
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In the original scenario, the hypothetical person was already doing that.
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Old 19 May 2018, 12:33 AM
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Thorny locust, your point about saying "sorry" is important. I've thought the same thing. Saying sorry is important, but ultimately, it's what you do next that matters. With our kids, we've introduced the idea of making amends. We talk about how it is like mending the damage to your relationship with someone. It's not always successful, or obvious how they can make amends, but we usually suggest at least saying sorry and asking if there's anything they can do to help, or if there's anything the person needs. And we also talk about possible ways to do things differently in the future.
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