Monday, September 10, 2012

The proverbial question...

So recently, my sister talked me into training for--AND RUNNING--a half marathon with her. 

...[cricket, cricket]...

Now that I look back on our conversation, I'm actually convinced there was some kind of trickery or black magic involved, since...

I. Am. Not. A. Runner.

Lemme lay it down for you....Musician? Yes. Marching band? OH YEAH! Drama? Absolutely. Mock Trial Team? You bettchya. Dancer? All the time. Hiking? Yay! Snowboarding? Every weekend. And although, yes, I DID do track, I was a vaulter. Not a runner. 

In fact, until last week, the longest consecutive run I'd ever done IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, was less than two miles. 

You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?

But as I've been training for this half marathon of death, I've noticed something. Not my shrinking waistline, or the lessening of the unsightly cottage cheese cellulite on my legs (although those things are--admittedly--nice!)... what I've noticed is an OUTPOURING of support from people. My sister for one, but also complete strangers that I've never met! I'll be trudging along, dragging my broken body down the street at a half trot/crawl that I call like to call "running," when all the sudden a guy taking the trash out will give me a thumbs up. The lady weeding her garden will turn and say "Good for you!" And a neighbor will tell me he wishes he could be like me.  

Now, although I question the mental stability of ANYONE who actually WANTS to be sweaty, sore and limping within an inch of death like me, I do think its incredible how much support I've gotten from complete, random strangers. All just from pushing myself to try a challenge I've never been able to do before. 

It reminds me of the kind of support I get from fellow writers in the blogsphere... you awesome people who I have NEVER met, but regardless, never fail to give the most amazing support whenever I need it. 

This all got me thinking--and, though I might be totally naive for even SUGGESTING this--I really want to believe that people are generally... GOOD. 

I've been wondering about this question, as I've been blowing through just about every dystopian novel I can get my hands on. I love these stories and am completely FASCINATED with how society gets to the "point of no return," so to speak, when things just start going BAD. 

Reading about these post-apocalyptic, struggling societies, and comparing it to my own experiences with people who are so supportive and GOOD, I'm always struck with the question of: 

What ARE we at the core? What is the true nature of human beings? 

Are we GOOD? Or really just BAD?

When stripped of the familiar, secure world in which we live in, most dystopian authors imply that people become savage. Without feeling. Selfish. In a sense: BAD. 

And don't get me wrong, it makes sense. These stories are believable. The characters' reactions to these situations are realistic. 

But am I so wrong for wishing... thinking... hoping... wondering... if, perhaps, they're wrong? If maybe--just maybe--we are all secretly GOOD in our hearts? That the dark side REALLY WOULD loose.... that Lord V and his Death Eaters really DO fail in the face of love... that the President Snows of the world are in the minority?

I dunno. Maybe.

What do YOU think, the faithful throng of readers and writers of the world... 

Are we GOOD or BAD?


Mandi said...

Haha! I'd give my left boob to be able to run a marathon! The most I can do these days is cheer. So I'm cheering for you to run your bum down to the finish line! LOL

To answer you, I think that authors are more observant of the life around them than the readers give credit for. Life is where we get the large ideas, expand them and make them mean something. Authors see one situation, twist it to make it entertaining and realistic, and the trigger idea still has the same meaning as origin of the original idea.

Good V Evil? We can't all be wholly good or that would make us a Messiah. And I don't think a truly evil person starts as being wholly bad. Good must be taught as well as the wrong. But it all comes down to our freewill. That's what makes us human and in the end ultimately defines who we are and choose to be.

I think Suzanne Collins had it right--the government wouldn't exist without the people/citizens of a nation. So when the citizens see the perspective of their own choices (there's that freewill thing again) in allowing the government to expand to an alarming rate and choose to do something about it, that's where conflict and the subject of liberty make an intriguing story. Sometimes it takes a more observant person to see what is and what could be before a character sees it, let alone a reader.

Well those are my thoughts anyway... LOL

Carolyn Baker said...

Julie, you are so hilarious. Yes, how did LIsa get YOU to run? Don't feel bad, somehow she hooked us all. As far as people being truly good or truly bad?...It's an individual thing. We hear bad in the media all the time but there is ALOT of good out there, too. Maybe there is not more good than bad but I believe there is WAY more good than we can imagine.

Andy said...

I don't think I've ever noticed people cheering me on while running. I'll occasionally get honked at, but it's usually right when the car's next to me, and it freaks me out, so I'm less inclined to think of those favorably.

As for good and bad, I've started to write a response two or three different times. You can rest assured that each response was going to be amazingly insightful, and neatly wrap up the issue of whether humanity is good or bad. As I wrote, I kept finding exceptions to any broad statement I would make, which required more writing and fine tuning. Long story short, I'm not sure if we're good or bad, but we're certainly complex.

Julie said...

Mandi: You are so very wise! I wish I had something more insightful to comment on, but seriously, I think you said it so well! And you kind of hit on the nature v. nurture argument too, which... well... is NEVER gunna get old! (And is NEVER gunna get answered either... which, of course, makes it a prime candidate for a delicious conversation topic!)

Mom: I know... I think Lisa must have had a few unused tricks up her sleeve. Can't BELIEVE she got us all to do this!! Clearly, her mad sales skillzzzz have improved ( : And I like your thoughts there... that's what I keep trying to believe. That although there is so much bad in the world... and that--yeah, sure--MAYBE if there was a zombie appocolypse, most everyone would shout "EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF!" But that maybe... just maybe... there is more good out there than we give the world credit for.

Andy: Haha! I hate it when that happens ( : I'll just sit here and pretend to be oh-so-impressed by your amazingly insightful intentions! Haha!

Oh, and P.s.... here's me sending mental running encouragement your way. The kind that DOESN'T involve a car honking at you through a wave of gutter puddle as it passes you on the sidewalk!

Emily R. King said...

I think it's great that you're running because you are pushing yourself, and that's what matters. It's good to mix things up!

As for people being inherently good or evil, I like to think we all start off good with the potential to become great, then somewhere along the line if we stray, with forgiveness we can always go back to being good. I believe in redemption. Not many people are all good or all evil. We all have redeemable qualities. :)

David P. King said...

I have this class in college called "good and evil" that was all about this topic. to sum up the semester, the possible answer is neither. The only thing that everyone is trying to do is what they think is right. One's moral compass defines what another's choices are. :)

Julie said...

Emily: There is so much truth to that, isn't there? Are we "evil" because we do one bad act? Are we then "good" because we feel sorry and try to make it right again? Who knows... but I like what you said about redemption. That is so true.

David: Wow! I never thought about it that way before. I guess that's right. What is "bad" to one and "good" to another will be completely different based on your moral compass!

Wow... this topic is becoming a much more complicated question than I originally thought it was. AWESOME! Food for thought is always good ( :