What is wrong with people? I hear or read this phrase a lot. When we see injustice being done, big or small. It happens around us, or we see it magnified through social media. A quick clip or reel of people misbehaving against what we think is good or the social norm. I’ve certainly uttered this statement a few times myself.
Judging rather than being open and curious.
Yesterday I, myself, was what was wrong with people. And it certainly led me to self-reflect. I was in the last legs of my trip from Manila. I have stayed over at an SFO airport hotel before I flew back to Charleston. Airports, and travel in general, can easily cause people to misbehave. A lady was in front of me at the TSA check. She was taking her time unloading her stuff-- she had several. A large space opened up in front of her as the one before her went through the scanner already. Without thinking, I went ahead of her and plopped my things on to the scanner belt. I had a backpack and a purse. It should be quick. But of course, she called me out. She said, excuse me, why did you go in front of me? And I immediately knew I was being rude. I apologized and said I don’t know why I did that - I’m sorry. I can go back. But she waved me off and rolled her eyes. After the scan I apologized again. But of course the damage was done. Maybe she moved on, but maybe I ruined her day for the rest of her travel. I certainly went back again and again in my head to why I did that. Hence this long post. I think it’s because I thought it was justified because she was taking her time and I’m in a hurry - she wouldn’t mind. I was in a hurry as I only had 20 minutes before my boarding time. This of course was not her fault but all mine, for taking my time getting to the airport. I ruminated, beat myself up, and replayed the scene, thinking what I could have done differently. Ultimately, I decided that I’m human and most capable of misbehavior.
At that moment, I was what’s wrong with people.
I’m sure I have been several times over in the past. Maybe, people have just let me be and did not call me out like she did. The lesson I learned is, no matter how I may think (self-righteously) I’m a good person, sometimes, or maybe oftentimes, I could be what’s wrong with people too. The next time that I’m passing judgment and thinking what is wrong with this person, I can pause and give them grace. Maybe they’re going through something. And it is not in their bandwidth at the moment to behave according to social norm. It happens. And also, to give myself grace and understanding when I make a mistake. We all do. Take notice, decide to do better and move on to be better humans.
Most of the time.