Posted by: Dan | October 10, 2009

There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ People

In the work that I have done over the years, and in the lifestyle I have tried to live, people sometimes ask me why I desire to spend my time with others who have done ‘such bad things’.  When I am asked this question, I often find myself thinking:

Hey, where are all the ‘good things’ that everybody else is supposedly doing?  If these are the ‘bad people’ what makes you so good?

Because I think most people are restricting their sense of goodness to the things they do not do — or at least the things they do not do explicitly.  Truth is, when you dig down a little, all of us are child abusers, murderers, and thieves.  All of us are walking around with the blood of others in our clothes, in our food, and in our hair.  So, as far as I can tell, it’s never been a question of hanging around with ‘bad people’ or ‘good people’.  That’s not the issue here.  There are no ‘good’ people and there are no ‘bad’ people… there are only people.  Beautiful but broken.  Longing for life and in bondage to death.  Every one of us a bastard, and every one of us beloved.  That’s all.

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Responses

  1. where is that drawing in your header from? If you dont mind me asking?

  2. The picture in the header is an etching by Käthe Kollwitz — it’s called “Tod und Frau” or “Death and Woman”. Kollwitz lived through a lot (being in Germany during both world wars) and ended up producing some really breath-taking art (IMO).

  3. I really like the header too.

    I think people are often looking for a sliding scale to feel better about themselves… Well, I’m not as bad as “that” or “them.”

    The problem is that Jesus seems to do away with an us and them mentality. He tried to bring people together.

  4. Ahh, thought it looked like one of hers:) She is one of my all time faves:)

  5. The Sufjan Stevens song about John Wayne Gacy captures this pretty well, I think.

  6. Because I think most people are restricting their sense of goodness to the things they do not do — or at least the things they do not do explicitly.

    Reminds me of the line that I hear Anglicans use sometimes about sins of omission and commission. One of our great heresies is that so long as you don’t do anything at all, you can’t possibly be sinning. Passivity is not the way to righteousness.

  7. […] And a couple of challenging thoughts: “appeals that provoke pity and guilt [do] not pointing in the right direction. To get people to respond simply to ease their own discomfort was actually counterproductive. Such appeals don’t help the poor long-term; these appeals eventually just make people calloused and cynical or at the least able to view such presentations with very little impact. more “Truth is, when you dig down a little, all of us are child abusers, murderers, and thieves.  All of us are walking around with the blood of others in our clothes, in our food, and in our hair.” more […]

  8. Often we forget that the line between good and evil runs inside all of us. Hanging out with those who society says are worse than me actually humbles my heart. It makes me remember what’s important – that we share the same humanity. That sometimes I am the same lustful greedy selfish drunken soul.. perhaps with not as much craziness or courage to act it out that’s all. The shadows indeed help us to know the light. Thanks for your post, P-O-P

  9. I really like what you’ve written here and find it true in my experience as well.

    What I like most is that you’ve not only suggested that we are victims of sin and death, but in the same beat, we are perpetrators of sin and death. Perhaps the fact that we are perpetrators springs forth from the fact that we are victims (or visa-versa)?

    At any rate, I think you summed it up nicely when you said: “there are only people. Beautiful but broken. Longing for life and in bondage to death. Every one of us a bastard, and every one of us beloved. That’s all.”

    Peace.

  10. good thoughts. I’m trying to write a paper on ancient carnival as a corrective force for ecclesiology today. carnival was a time when, as a form of resistance, norms were turned upside down. kings were heckled, fools were crowned, sex, drink, and “foul language” were free for purchase. the rich became poor and the supposedly good became “bad”, for a while. i’m having a hard time getting to the argument that i want to make, and i have a feeling it relates to some of the things you’ve said.

    let’s hang out this week.

    cheers

    joel mason

    • Hey Joel,

      Done any reading on the Roman festival of Saturnalia and the way in which that may have impacted the early Christian (kenotic) understanding of Christ as a slave who is also Lord? I think that might fit in very well with your paper. I have a few essays I could lend or refer to you on the topic (when we hang out), if you’re interested.

  11. “There aren’t good guys, and bad guys. It’s just… a bunch… of guys!” — Ben Stiller, from Zero Effect

  12. […] “Every one of us a bastard, and every one of us beloved. That’s all.” (Dan Oudshoorn) […]


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