The Whole Truth About How (Not) Rotten Human Beings Can Be

By Dr. Kelly Flanagan on Sep 17, 2014 04:00 am

It’s what the news will never tell you about people. It’s what comedians will never joke about. It’s the unseen part of every human being…

I walk into the house on a random Wednesday night and the television is on, tuned to the local news. I can’t remember the last time we watched the news in our house.

And I’m quickly reminded why.

The local newscasters recount story after story of death and murder and tragedy and fear. By the time the commercial break puts a pause in the terror, I’m convinced I need to beef up my home security system, quarantine my family, and immediately change every password on every account.

I hit the power button.

Oldest Son: Why did you do that?

Me: At most, ten percent of what people did in the world today was horrible, but they make it look like bad stuff is the only thing going on.

Oldest Son: Oh, it’s way more than ten percent.

Me: How much of what you did today was horrible and mean? Was it more than ten percent?

Oldest Son (head tilted thoughtfully): No. And I guess I’m a pretty typical guy.

He laughs and walks away to do something that is almost certain to be not-horrible. My pretty awesome, sometimes mean, sometimes cruel, but usually good and kind and beautiful boy, running off to do something that will never make the news. Something like playing. Something like breathing and living and laughing and generally being goodness in the world.

The Surface Part of People
I used to blame the nightly news for convincing people the world is a basically rotten place. But the truth is, that’s not how people work. We don’t go around looking for things to shape our worldview; we go around looking for things to confirm our worldview. We believe the world is a rotten place, and we watch the nightly news to confirm what we already believe. And to find out how to protect ourselves from the rottenness.

Why do we believe people are basically rotten?

Because there are three parts to every human being, and we only pay attention to two of them.

The first part of us is the façade—all the things we do to be acceptable to the world. All the things we do to get by without attracting too much shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and rejection. It’s the shiny stuff and the plastered smile and saying the things we’re supposed to say. Most of what’s openly on display in the world is façade.

Façades leave us lonely.

The Rotten Part of People
The second part of every human being lies just beneath the façade. It is, indeed, our rottenness. It’s our darkness. Our shadow. Our bad stuff. Our ego and all the tangled webs it weaves. And it’s the animal part of us that will do anything to get what it needs and wants.

We’re rotten to ourselves, telling ourselves over and over we’ll never be enough of this or enough of that. We’re rotten toward others, judging and criticizing and envying. And we can be rotten toward this planet we call home, doing whatever we want to it for our own benefit.

We lie and cheat and steal and beat and bruise and hurt and wound.

When you look past the surface of things, we look like pretty rotten people.

Several years ago, a friend said to me, “Comedians are the truth tellers.” He’s right. Comedians are the ones who look at the dark underbelly of life and humanity and then talk about it in public. They’re like the six o’clock news with jokes. Our comedians are our confessors—they have mustered the courage to pull our ego and our animal up out of the depths and tell the truth about it.

But I’m starting to wonder if they’re telling us the whole truth.

I’m wondering what would happen if they waited just a little longer to make us laugh. I wonder what would happen if they continued to look deeply into the darkness. I’m wondering if they might see the beauty beneath the ugly, the light pushing through the dark.

Because it is there.

I’ve seen it.

The Beautiful Part of People
Many of us never glimpse the deepest part of humanity, even in ourselves.

It’s the part of us that begins to emerge through the rottenness when the confession is over. It’s the light we begin to notice if we can let ourselves stay in the darkness long enough. No reporting. No joking. Just stillness in the darkness. Waiting. Watching. Listening. For light and for beauty and for goodness.

As a therapist, I get to sit around long enough, waiting, and I get to encounter the light in people. I’ve seen it. It’s at the center of us and it’s brilliant and it’s sacred. And it’s waiting to be found.

But the only way to find it is with attention. Stillness. Awareness sustained long enough to see the other ninety percent of what’s happening within us and all around us:

The baby laughing and gurgling and reaching for the eyes that feed him.

The young boy lifting worms out of a rain-damp driveway and returning them to the grass.

The young girl lost in the colors of summertime sidewalk chalk.

Siblings protecting each other and

young women deciding to have a voice and

young men respecting the word “No” and

a swelling generation of young people who care more about unity than political platforms and

couples prepared to love by losing and

mothers armed with Band-Aids and tenderness and

fathers learning how to play again and

a whole spinning planet full of people who are finally waking up to the light beneath the darkness.

In the words of one of my son’s favorite songs: “Everybody’s bones are just holy branches.” Now, that’s news. It doesn’t make for a great joke, but it does make for a great hope.


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2 notes   -   Posted 7 hours ago

fantasticallyficticious:livesandliesofwizards:


At twilight on August the 25th 1999, one week before classes were to begin, Hermione Granger Apparated into Hogsmeade, a wand box clutched under her arm.
Headmistress McGonagall was waiting for her outside the Three Broomsticks. The two women greeted each other warmly, and then set off towards the castle. Or rather, towards the grounds outside the castle.
They chatted amiably as they strolled towards the groundskeeper’s hut.  Hagrid, sitting outside and darning a pair of enormous socks, looked up as they approached.
“Good evenin’ Headmistress, Hermione,” he said with some gruff surprise.
“Good evening, Hagrid,” replied McGonagall. “May we go inside?  I believe Hermione has a proposition to discuss with you.”
If you had stood outside the hut as the evening darkened and the stars rose into the sky, you’d have heard the rumblings of an argument coming from inside the hut. You’d have heard Hagrid’s gruff refusals, Hermione’s calm (and then not so calm) rebuttals, and the very occasional interjection of the Headmistress.
Hermione did not emerge until the moon had fully risen and darkness enveloped the grounds. But in the light of the nearly full moon, you could see a smile on her face.
~
The Shrieking Shack was no longer widely believed to be haunted, now that the story of Remus Lupin was fully known.  Still, the residents of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts avoided it out of a mixture of respect and residual fear.
This suited Hermione perfectly. The interior of the Shack was now stacked with books and bottles of potion ingredients. A cauldron sat in the corner, a telescope pointed out a cracked window, and cushions lined one wall. A table was covered in parchment, broken quills, ink pots and stains. Once a week, Hermione would apparate into the Shack and go over her notes from the previous session while she awaited her student’s arrival.
Sometimes he was late without explanation. Sometimes he would bring a wounded bowtruckle he wasn’t comfortable leaving on its own.  Sometimes Fang would follow him and sit in the corner whining while his master sweated and cursed over a cauldron. Hermione was calm but firm, making adjustments as needed and letting Hagrid’s frustrated words roll off her back like water droplets. 
The Hogsmeade residents may have turned a blind eye to the goings-on in the Shrieking Shack, but that didn’t mean they weren’t relieved as time went on and there were fewer and fewer roars of anger echoing through the village.
~
The OWL testers had been warned in advance that they would have an unusual student that year. That didn’t mean they weren’t taken aback when Rubeus Hagrid appeared on their testing scrolls. They all knew of him of course, knew the role he played in the Second War and of the false accusations leveled against him.
They were worried they would have to be kind.
They needn’t have. No one could have Hermione Granger teach them personally for a year and not improve in all aspects. His potions may not have been textbook perfection, he may not have fully transfigured his toad, but Hagrid had clearly worked hard to master his long dormant abilities.
Rubeus Hagrid may not have followed the traditional path to wisdom.  But he had a new wand, the (sometimes grudging) respect of his peers, classes to teach and 6 OWLs.
Including the highest score ever recorded on Care of Magical Creatures.
(written and submitted by ppyajunebug; please excuse me, because I have something in my eye. Oh yes, it is my joyful tears. ppyajunebug has a way of bringing those out of me, you see. Their submissions tackle some of the saddest moments in canon, turning them around and making something beautiful out of them.)

THIS WAS SO STINKIN CUTE EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS

fantasticallyficticious:livesandliesofwizards:

At twilight on August the 25th 1999, one week before classes were to begin, Hermione Granger Apparated into Hogsmeade, a wand box clutched under her arm.

Headmistress McGonagall was waiting for her outside the Three Broomsticks. The two women greeted each other warmly, and then set off towards the castle. Or rather, towards the grounds outside the castle.

They chatted amiably as they strolled towards the groundskeeper’s hut.  Hagrid, sitting outside and darning a pair of enormous socks, looked up as they approached.

“Good evenin’ Headmistress, Hermione,” he said with some gruff surprise.

“Good evening, Hagrid,” replied McGonagall. “May we go inside?  I believe Hermione has a proposition to discuss with you.”

If you had stood outside the hut as the evening darkened and the stars rose into the sky, you’d have heard the rumblings of an argument coming from inside the hut. You’d have heard Hagrid’s gruff refusals, Hermione’s calm (and then not so calm) rebuttals, and the very occasional interjection of the Headmistress.

Hermione did not emerge until the moon had fully risen and darkness enveloped the grounds. But in the light of the nearly full moon, you could see a smile on her face.

~

The Shrieking Shack was no longer widely believed to be haunted, now that the story of Remus Lupin was fully known.  Still, the residents of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts avoided it out of a mixture of respect and residual fear.

This suited Hermione perfectly. The interior of the Shack was now stacked with books and bottles of potion ingredients. A cauldron sat in the corner, a telescope pointed out a cracked window, and cushions lined one wall. A table was covered in parchment, broken quills, ink pots and stains. Once a week, Hermione would apparate into the Shack and go over her notes from the previous session while she awaited her student’s arrival.

Sometimes he was late without explanation. Sometimes he would bring a wounded bowtruckle he wasn’t comfortable leaving on its own.  Sometimes Fang would follow him and sit in the corner whining while his master sweated and cursed over a cauldron. Hermione was calm but firm, making adjustments as needed and letting Hagrid’s frustrated words roll off her back like water droplets. 

The Hogsmeade residents may have turned a blind eye to the goings-on in the Shrieking Shack, but that didn’t mean they weren’t relieved as time went on and there were fewer and fewer roars of anger echoing through the village.

~

The OWL testers had been warned in advance that they would have an unusual student that year. That didn’t mean they weren’t taken aback when Rubeus Hagrid appeared on their testing scrolls. They all knew of him of course, knew the role he played in the Second War and of the false accusations leveled against him.

They were worried they would have to be kind.

They needn’t have. No one could have Hermione Granger teach them personally for a year and not improve in all aspects. His potions may not have been textbook perfection, he may not have fully transfigured his toad, but Hagrid had clearly worked hard to master his long dormant abilities.

Rubeus Hagrid may not have followed the traditional path to wisdom.  But he had a new wand, the (sometimes grudging) respect of his peers, classes to teach and 6 OWLs.

Including the highest score ever recorded on Care of Magical Creatures.

(written and submitted by ppyajunebug; please excuse me, because I have something in my eye. Oh yes, it is my joyful tears. ppyajunebug has a way of bringing those out of me, you see. Their submissions tackle some of the saddest moments in canon, turning them around and making something beautiful out of them.)

THIS WAS SO STINKIN CUTE EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS

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48,341 notes   -   Posted 7 hours ago

-onixxx:

Being an introvert AND having resting bitch face is not a good combination.


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sapphirefiber:

sociallyinadequate:

sociallyinadequate:

I love pine trees cause they consistently look like they’re flipping everyone off.

image

I live in the Evergreen State. I will never be able to unsee this.


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(Source: pleatedjeans)

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07v:

this is it. this is the whole show

07v:

this is it. this is the whole show

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incompleteicarus:

Do you ever ‘wtf white people’ even though you are a white people.


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changethewayitsalwaysbeen:

megustamemes:

Just remember, if you ever hate your job…

that is not where i thought this was going

changethewayitsalwaysbeen:

megustamemes:

Just remember, if you ever hate your job…

that is not where i thought this was going

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sweet-soul-brotha:

crawlingforyou:

probably-a-succubus:

tom-sits-like-a-whore:

carryonmywayward-idjits:

Please excuse me while I walk over your husband’s corpse like he’s nothing and upon entering the room, ignore your traumatised child in his crib and instead clutch your lifeless body in a demonstration of my love for you: creepy and entirely unhelpful

i love how everyone just knows what this is referencing

i dont and i am slightly mortified

Is this supernatural?

Snape. Snape. Severus Snape.

Im a Huge harry potter fan and I don’t know how I didn’t see it

(Source: odestayouhavemyheart)


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