Life is a Maze, Not a Straight Line

When we compromise our values, we bulldoze the wrong turns instead of navigating back and starting again.

No man has any natural authority over his fellow men. - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
photo courtesy of Brainyquote.com

Jean Jacques Rousseau believed in the goodness of man.  Meaning he believed by nature that man is born good.  It’s a foundational premise.  If you believe in this paradigm, then it dictates how you view the world.  I do.  I was a middle school teacher long enough to see this in play.  Kids are good.  It’s only after that they transition to adults that they become bad.

Sure, there are outliers.  In working with 1000s of kids, I met one that was basically not good.  And all of us working with him could see the root cause was his mother.  He was simply wired wrong.

As adults we can see that many become outliers.  Why?  I think we will spend the next 50 years unpacking and answering that question, but it does need to be answered.  All kids understand and see that the world would be better if it were fair.  Hungry people are fed.  Naked people are clothed.  Dumb people are educated.  Sick people are healed.  Endangered species are not made extinct.

One kid out of thousands looks through a different lens, and that kid grows up to be the boss and ruler.  He or she then sullies the ethics that are the fabric of humanity.  These few rotten apples ruin the world for all making life more difficult if you don’t accept their narratives.

Why does this happen?  Simple.  Compromising values is a slippery slope.  Do it once in public and you can be coerced to do it again and again.  Hence, toxic waste being dumped in rivers, sick people dying without medicine, hungry starving to death without food.  It starts, like any road traveled, with a first step.

Today, compromising our values starts early on.  It’s all right there at our fingertips.  The internet makes available a lot of wrong to be seen by all of us.  We accept it as normative behavior without question.  When we do question, we are viewed as the outlier instead of the good man.

I am a good man.  I can see that the environment is in danger.  The hungry need to eat.  The sick need medicine, not insurance.  And that being happy and kind should be what we value instead of the amount of money we have or car we drive.

Life is the collection of the steps we take and roads we travel.  Each road starts with a step and sometimes, at least in my life, I have taken a path or road only to find that it is a dead end or impassible.  That’s when I regroup and change direction sometimes back to the beginning.  That’s life.  It’s a maze, not a straight road.  

Those who try to make it so and bulldoze all that’s in their way, destroy much of the beauty around us.  It is time to regroup and change direction.  All of us need to unite and put aside our differences to make the world a better place for more people now and in the future.

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