Are you a good person? Are your friends and family "good people"? What if the people you consider to be good people do things that you don't think are good things to do? Does that make them bad people? It would seem so when we watch the news or get into the rifts on social media about politics, medical situations, human rights, race, etc.
The sermon today in church was about that exact topic. Can good people get into bad things or act in ways that are not "good" in other peoples' minds? I suspect so.
My class I am teaching at Trinity University called "Teaching Students with Learning and Behavior Problems" has been studying the notion of students who have gotten in repeated trouble and been labeled "bad kids". Have you ever taught a "bad kid"? Have you ever had a "bad kid" in your neighborhood? I grew up mostly in apartment complexes and didn't have a whole lot of supervision. I participated in some pretty bad activities but I think I am a pretty "good person". Fast forward to teaching and being a principal. I had a student or two who would run away from school. The text we've been reading in class says that teachers tend to label students who would do such a thing as "bad kids" (Greene, 2016). The problem with even saying the student's behavior is bad is that we are not, in Greene's view going far enough "upstream". We are simply seeing what we see, and even worse, theorizing about the reasons for it. We hear educators say things like, "He probably runs away because he doesn't want to go home to his house where there is drug use and prostitution going on." The problem with these "adult theories" (Greene, 2016, p. 38) is that we are imposing our own beliefs on someone else's choices, and they are often wrong. Instead, we need to go further upstream and explore the unsolved problem. For my runner, it might be that he has difficulty staying in school after 2:00. We, as the adults in his life, including his parent(s), of course, can get together and talk collaboratively about the problem-solving process. What might we do? One suggestion is to get someone who has a really good relationship with the student to have the first discussion with him/her. That might be the P.E. coach; it might be the counselor; it might be the lady who monitors the lunchroom who the student opens up with when he/she feels like no one else is listening. The conversation might go something like:
Adult: So, you seem to have difficulty staying in the school after 2:00. What's going on there?
Student: I don't know. I just don't want to be there anymore.
Adult: Hmmmm....I get that; what do you think is going on around 2:00 that makes you want to run?
Student: I just hate getting on the bus after school. I'd rather run home.
Adult: What's going on with the bus that you're not comfortable with?
Student: It's loud and I just want to be by myself.
Adult: Hm.....it's a long way from school to your house, so we have the bus for that reason. I wonder what might happen if we got you a headset with your favorite songs on a playlist, and you could listen to that on the way home on the bus. What do you think about that?
Student: Yeah, that would be kinda cool....I'd like that.
Okay, maybe that is a simplistic version of the conversation and too easily solved, but it gives us the reality that the kid is not a "bad kid" and the kid is not even doing "bad behaviors". He/she just needs help with his unsolved problems.
We can be divided on our views on politics, religion, human rights, race, etc. but does that make someone BAD? I think not. I hope not. I pray not. As our sermon talked about today, even Biblical Matthew hung out with a homeless guy who ended up getting murdered (that would be Jesus). Who is bad in that scenario? I would think "nobody is".
We may see good people, even people we love more than anyone else in the world, be involved in activities that we don't like or agree with. But does that make their views bad? People on social media often say it does. I don't agree. I believe we have the ability to agree to disagree on many aspects but still be good people.
Whenever Dave and I hear someone talking about "That's not a good activity", it reminds us of one of our favorite comedians, Brian Reagan . He has one of the funniest "takes" on what is and isn't a good activity. But he doesn't get into who is and isn't a good person.
Just for today, perhaps consider what is and isn't a good activity for you. And remember, above all, that you are good and wonderfully made.
Greene, R.W. (2016). Lost and Found: Helping behaviorally challenging students. Jossey-Bass.