Friday, November 4, 2011

Why People are Neat

So I've been told recently by kid sister that one of the reasons I might actually marry some lovely girl is because I "see why people are neat".

"Seeing why people are neat" isn't listed on my resume.  And to be frank, I'm not sure I understood it when she told me that.  I probably don't now - but I've been pondering it over the past few days.

Here's what I've come up with:
  1. Everybody has an interesting background
  2. Everybody is generally good
Only two points.  And yes, I used a list for only two points.  But I want to emphasize the simplicity of the theory.  Let's examine the first point...

Interesting Backgrounds

The people who I find most interesting are the ones who don't think they are.  I'm surrounded by international students.  They tend to think their lives are boring because they only study and many of them don't understand the social norms enough to blend well with college kids in Northern Utah.  But here's the kicker - these people have traveled!  They've grown up in crazy places.  Places where you can scam cops for a $5, write up your own birth certificate, or get chased by real lions!  And a lot of them have not had much to start with.  They're young, and everything they have in their lives comes from their own work ethic.

The more I understand the guys in my lab, the cooler I think they are.

General Goodness

The second point comes in the form of yet another assumption.  Hey - I'm an engineer, remember?  We thrive on assumptions.

What I mean by general goodness is that once people put down their facades, they tend to be good-hearted.  It might be difficult to see past the projected image, but once the walls are down, and the person in question knows their real character has been exposed - the humility of them causes their goodness to glow.

One friend of mine who has a gift for getting past the facades is Brandon Hill, a.k.a. "The Bull Rider".

The Bull Rider

I first met the bull rider after teaching a lesson one Sunday where I mentioned my dad.  Brandon came up afterward and just started asking me about the old man.  So we became acquaintances of sorts.  Later that week, we hit up Carl's Jr. (because that's what manly men do when they're hungry) and we got talking with a few other buddies.  I realized that I didn't know much about Brandon, and once I started asking questions, I discovered what he does for a living:  mechanical bulls.

Brandon is a year younger than I am - and he's had this company for four years.  Meaning, he must have started it when he was pretty fresh from his mission.  Who does that?!  Starts up a mechanical bull company in their early twenties?!  I got a kick out of him.  And the more I got to know him, the bigger the kick.  He's getting married tomorrow - by the way.

Either through his diverse background of mechanical bull crowd control or just through some God-given gift, that old Bull Rider has a way of making you feel like you're having a "real" conversation when you talk with him.  I think he's one who sincerely believes in the general goodness of strangers.

Dialing in Perspective

By believing that people are neat, our perspectives change.

I have some friends that don't understand this.  They still view the world as a scary place - that strangers are to be feared, not approached for random conversation.  And the effect this mindset is that it turns one excessively introspective, anti-social, and timid.  The world becomes dark to those who assume it is.

To those who assume otherwise, however, the opposite is true: the world is full of opportunity.

Take for example one of my favorite movies, Secondhand Lions.  When Walter first meets his two uncles, Garth and Hub - he expects to be unenthused.  But as he learns who they are and the backgrounds they have, he begins to love them.  His love for them is only reinforced when he sees how they generally try to be good.  The second point is even quoted in the script of that movie:
Hub: "Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in." (underline added for emphasis)
I particularly like the last phrase - that "those are the things worth believing in".  The concept that things can be "worth believing in" means that certain things have a worthy effect when we chose to believe them.

When we believe that people are interesting and generally good, three things happen: our lives becomes more enjoyable, our relationships thrive, and we approach the future with confidence.

So why are people neat?  Because it's worth seeing them that way.


Leah Wilson said...

That was way good. Way good. But let's not pretend like there aren't some duds out there--even when you get deep under the surface.

Jessica said...

I like this. I tend to lean too far on the "everyone is neat" side, so it's nice to be justified. :) Good luck finding yourself a neat lady, there's sure to be oodles of them in your neck of the woods.