Yesterday I was feeling pretty good but writing about the things that were bothering me actually made me feel worse in the end (which is not the norm for me nor in general, if psychology is to be believed). I still got stuff done but I think I’d have gotten a lot more done if I hadn’t stopped to sit down and think about stuff. Oh well. I did take a very lovely bath with half a recently rediscovered lush bubble bar, and as a result my entire bathroom smells lovely even though the the litter box is in there. I also finished The Human Division, which includes a passage I particularly like and probably need to read on the regular. For context, the book is SF, set in the future where humanity has colonies on other planets and is dealing with lots of alien races, many of whom are members of a governing body called The Conclave. Wilson, a human, is talking to Rayth Ablant, an alien from a race called the Easo. The Easo are members of the Conclave.
You know humans have a bad reputation. Among the rest of us.
“I’ve heard,” Wilson said.
That you’re deceptive. That you’ll go against your contracts and treaties. That you’re terrified of all of us and your way of solving that problem is trying to destroy us all.
“But on the bright side, we all have lovely singing voices,” Wilson said.
I’m telling you this because I’m not seeing any of this in you.
“Humans are like anyone,” Wilson said. “Is every Easo a good person? Before the Conclave, did your government always do the best thing? Does the Conclave always do the best things now?”
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to start a political discussion.
“You didn’t,” Wilson said. “I’m talking about the nature of sentient beings everywhere. We all have the entire range of possibilities inside us. Personally, I don’t expect much out of other people. But for myself, whenever possible, I try not to be a complete prick.”
Science fiction and fantasy provide a great filter for looking at our world and it’s problems in a new environment. From a step removed, we can see things that we can’t when confronted with the actual issue. I, and many people I know, tend toward cynicism regarding humanity. My favorite Dollhouse quote is “Yeah, people are mostly crap.” But humanity is just a LOT of individuals just like Wilson–expecting everyone else to probably suck, being pleasantly surprised when they don’t, and doing what they can to make things better. (Of course, better can mean “easier for me” in some people’s minds, or “whiter,” or any number of things that I don’t necessarily agree with.*) But on the flip side, that means they hold themselves to higher standards, whether that be manifested as being hard on oneself for not getting straight As in school, or for not finding a job easily in a recession, or accidentally losing a gift someone gave you that meant a lot to both of you.**
Maybe we need to expect more from others, and a little less from ourselves. Even things out a bit.
*I say I don’t necessarily agree, not because I’m condoning racism or anything like that, but because I myself have been guilty of the mindset that “easier for me” is better, and because better can also mean helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, etc.
**I did not, at any point, feel particularly disappointed with Bs or Cs. Mildly disappointed, but not ridiculously mad at myself for it. The other two I have done.