Are people inherently good?

Lofty topic for a blog post, I know. But I experienced some major philosophical whiplash today and it’s demanding to be processed in words.

First, the good.

A friend of mine shared a photo on Facebook of her participation in a local Free Mom Hugs group. It instantly warmed me and inspired an Instagram post.

A friend of mine posted their photo in a Free Mom Hugs group and instantly I loved them even more. Like OF COURSE you give free mom hugs.

The kind of people who give free parent hugs are usually those who either didn’t receive unconditional love or who have witnessed other parents not giving unconditional love. So they share their time, energy, and personal space to offer hugs.

Or perhaps they put conditions on their love for their queer child and regret it, and Free Mom Hugs is part of their amends for what they lost, the harm they caused, and what they know these other children (and adult children) are missing.

As an estranged adult, I don’t even know if my parents know I’m queer. If they know my name. If they know I’m an author or that I’m in the best relationship of my life with someone who adores me unconditionally. If I have a thriving business doing something I love.

I wish I could talk to them. But when I do, I get hurt.

And so I will take every hug from a person in a Free Hugs shirt when I go to Pride. Because sometimes you just need a mom hug, you know?

It’s a gorgeous example of the fact that humans are good. We love. We build. We are community.

I do truly believe that at our cores we are good, and we make connections, and we create. But something happens to a lot of human beings. And not everyone shines with this innate warmth and togetherness that I think is inherent in humanity at our base.

Now the bad.

I have a shitty old man neighbor who has only interacted with me twice, both times complaining at me from across the street. Today, while I was walking my dog, he regaled me with a tale of animal cruelty on the part of some acquaintance of his that I will not repeat here because it’s fucked up.

And whether or not he was trying to get a rise out of me because he can tell I’m left-leaning and he’s just being a dick on purpose to “own the libs” or whatever, the truth is that some folks really are capable of the level of cruelty he described and even revel in it.

And my faith in the inherent goodness of humanity was shaken.

I did what I could. I called the humane society and reported it to the best of my ability without knowing where exactly the Big Bad of the story was based. But maybe they can check in with Shitty Old Man Neighbor and get a lead. Or maybe it’s small potatoes in a world where they have verifiable accounts of animal cruelty happening all day every day.

I am a soft, kind person.

I came home from walking the dog and burst into tears. I called my partner up from the basement during his work day and asked if he had a few minutes for me. He held me and let me cry, and he listened to me and hugged me.

I can’t fathom why people would be so cruel and heartless. And sometimes being a soft, kind person feels scary and dangerous. Like we are more at risk of being hurt. More at risk of being taken advantage of.

And part of that is true. I don’t always have strong boundaries and the willingness to enforce them. I am a recovering people pleaser, as evidenced by the fact that I told this guy to have a nice day as I quickly walked my dog home after she was done with her business.

But I’ve also earned my softness. I have been through so much, been abused so long by so many, and I am still soft? Still kind hearted? Still get tears in my eyes when I think about how much love I can feel for those I love? That’s fucking strength.

So if you’re a soft little cinnamon roll who has seen some shit, you’re my kind of people.

And if you’re mean to animals and think it’s funny, I’ll save you a spot in hell.

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