17
May
16

everyday people

kintsukuroi

The Japanese think that imperfection is a part of an object’s charm. Here, a broken piece of pottery, mended with gold by the kintsukuroi method.

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There are two kinds of people out here: the scrabblers, who are convinced the world is a harsh place which requires that they lie, cheat, steal, and cut corners; and the majority, the decent lot, who shape the world into a place where kindness, generosity, and good-will dominate.

Years ago I wrote that you can look at the same evidence and draw two totally different conclusions. The world outside can be seen as either a living hell or a little piece of heaven—the choice is yours.

Derek has come here with his big-city habits and every night brings in the key to the truck—but who would ever steal it? There are no people out here, let alone thieves. And anyway, there’s only one road out of town. Anyone who had the distinct bad taste to steal our truck would be apprehended by our sheriff’s deputy before they’d ever be able to make it away. Derek will lose his big-city ways soon enough—but he was raised in prison where thieves were some of his best friends.

That’s not to say that there aren’t bad people out here. They’re everywhere. Yet out here they stand out by their deeds and can be avoided.

You all know by now about my recent experience with the bank. We patched things up yesterday and agreed that reasonable people can have misunderstandings and disagree. I have apologized for the part I played in the disagreement, and no longer contend that the bank was trying to rip me off.

But a few years ago the man who owns the local hardware store sold a piece of angle-iron that I paid for (which he was storing for me) to another customer. One day I went in with a pickup truck to get it and discovered that it was gone. “That’s okay,” I said. “You can just give me a store credit for the amount I paid”—but he would only give me half. “No deal,” I said, and walked away. If his reputation is worth so little to him, I would prefer never collecting what he owes me. I’ve never set foot in his shop since and have been outspoken with my friends and neighbors about my experience. I figure I’ve paid for that.

I don’t go looking for conflict and am slow to take offense. People are people, and it’s not the end of the world if they sometimes make mistakes. I’m pretty thick-skinned; I don’t take myself so seriously as to think that I am inviolable. But if they refuse to fess up, are too threatened to apologize, that is worse than having made the original mistake.

۞

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