I’ve been lucky enough to fall into a situation recently where I have some very affordable travel options available to me. I’m hoping to take advantage of this and travel to some ‘bucket list’ locations in the coming months while doing some soul search/exploring during that time. I’ve always been one who does well on his own. I’m good at thinking, if that is a thing, and I when I find myself in a situation where I can have uninterrupted time to myself … I like to think I solve many of life’s (and my own) problems.
Why am I telling you this? Because I recently took a short trip to Niagara Falls and was excited to hopefully have some crazy epiphany overtake me as I stood in front of one of nature’s coolest accomplishments. The trip happened, the sight was seen, and while I can tell you I came home from that trip with a pretty profound epiphany, I can also tell you it had nothing to do with Niagara Falls.
First, here is a picture of said waterfall as it flowed on the 2nd day of 2016:
Cool. Now let me throw some optimistic nonsense at you.
I flew from my hometown to Detroit, then from Detroit to Buffalo. I had a window seat while we descended into Detroit and had this quick conversation with myself while staring at the city:
Jacob: “Man, Detroit is more sprawling than I thought…”
Jacob: “Yeah, there seems to be a lot of activity (traffic moving, businesses up and running, parks open, etc).
Jacob: “Doesn’t Detroit have one of the highest crime rates in America?”
Jacob: “I’m not sure, but I think I read that somewhere.”
Jacob: “It seems to be operating just fine to me…”
Jacob: “I agree, from up here it looks like a fairly well-oiled machine…”
I think it is human nature to expand stories from their origins. I smiled a little thinking about this exact thing in regards to our society and how it is running verses how it is perceived by many. A fairly common adage from EVERY generation is that “this country is going down the drain, this new generation is going to run us into the ground, etc…”
Do we have problems? Yep. Do we have crime? Yep. Is it potentially dangerous to act as if we do not have flaws as a society? Probably. Are we in a dire situation where hate and evil are taking us over and there is so little hope for humanity that we need to live in fear of each other and assume the worst in people? Umm, no. Not close and not ever.
People are inherently good. I really do believe that and as I was hovering 10,000+ feet over one of the “worst” cities in America, I couldn’t help but think that at that exact moment the INCREDIBLE MAJORITY of people below were being perfectly perfect citizens. They were waking up and going to work, caring for themselves and their neighbors, paying their taxes, etc. I also thought about the select few who woke up that morning and decided to be disruptive.
Unfortunately, most days it doesn’t seem that way. ‘Hard’ headlines get more attention than the opposite, so news outlets will write for the eyes. If ten good deeds and one bad deed are done in a day, it is likely that the ‘bad’ story will be the one that gets told. It is unfortunate and unfair to our society, in my opinion, but it is a reality.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
It means whatever you want it to mean. To me, I see a cop and I think he/she is a good person and will always go to him/her for help, regardless of the press the police force has been getting lately. I assume my donated money to a charity is going to be spent in an honest way, regardless of the same. If I’m walking down the street and see a young man walking with his hood pulled up over his head and hands stuffed in his pockets … I’m still going to smile and say hello, because he is probably just cold.
Someday could that get me into trouble because I am willing to trust so easily? Maybe. Possibly. But FOR ME PERSONALLY, I sleep really easy at night knowing that 99.9% of the world is NOT out to get me and if I can make a blanket statement … we do pretty well as a society at being awesome.
Can we improve? Yep. Should we always be double checking our progress in that endeavor? Yep. Is it ok to question and research things that confuse/concern you? Yep.
But this world is a pretty complex system and if I am allowed to throw my opinion out into the wind… I think we are doing great. We have room to be better, but that is true for everyone and everything.
Don’t believe the bad guys, we are kind of incredible.