Some say that people are mostly good and will do the right thing in the end. Others say that people, when left to their own devises, are evil and only do good when they can get something in return. However I find it hard to believe in either of these things completely. From what I have seen people can be both. The reasons behind someone's malice could determine if they are truly a bad person, and same goes for the reason behind why someone is doing the right thing. Just because someone does something good doesn't mean that they are doing it for the right reasons. Then again, we would all like to believe they are doing it for the right reasons, and in that case does it really matter? It's easier to believe that a nice act is really a selfless nice act. And that's what I would like to believe about two girls in my eighth grade class.
Middle school wasn't easy for me, as I am sure the same goes for many others. I was rather an outcast and I got picked on like nothing you would believe. In sixth grade it was by the students and teachers, I had almost no friends and struggled to make the grades. In seventh grade I lost one of my friends unexpectedly and shortly after I had a friend move away. I reacted harshly and managed to alienate two more of my friends. By eighth grade I was a depressed mess. I had a few friends but still was being picked on terribly. I was beyond feeling hopeless. I didn't think it could get worse. That's when I started Spanish. There were two girls in my class (who for this purpose will remain unnamed) they were both a lot more popular than I was. They knew what buttons to push that upset me. They knew I was failing Spanish because I couldn't focus and I didn't understand it. They knew the things that got the rest of the class to laugh, at me. I felt like the whole class had turned against me. Like a wave of people crashing in on me. But instead of the sound of the peaceful turning of water I was hit with horrifying taunts and laughter. And like a wave crashing on me I felt as if I had lost my voice and the ability to breath, everyday it got worse. I didn't think either of these girls had an ounce of kindness in them. Finally I couldn't take it. I got my seat moved as far away from the rest of the class as possible. It helped a bit but not completely.
So this doesn't sound like kindness yet. I know. But that's what made it so hard for me to believe that either of these girls held kindness within. That is, until I heard something from the meaner of the two.
Since my seat had been so far off to the class in the corner of the room I often got left out of main conversational gossip (which I was ok with). But one day the one who picked on me the most, looked upset. She pulled the other one off to the side, unintentionally over within hearing distance of me. She started telling the other one of how her mom's boyfriend was hitting her mom again. I thought this explained a lot but I really shouldn't be hearing about their personal family problems. At the same time I thought this I heard her say something about how she pushed him out of the way and so he started hitting her. She said she just couldn't stand to let her mother be hit anymore so she did what she had to. In that one story, shared with her best friend that I wasn't supposed to hear, my opinion of her changed. When I wrote previously about how doing something bad doesn't make you a bad person this is what I meant. She was mean to me, yes. But at the same time she was not a bad person. She had put herself in harm's way just to save her mom. She wasn't terrible; she had goodness somewhere in her, even if it wasn't to me. and that piece of goodness changed her in my eyes even though I didn't expect it to.
She was never nice to me, but that made me feel sorry for her and it only made me be nicer to her and her friend. I figured if the girl who made my life miserable on a daily basis had goodness in her I would be determined to find it in everyone. I wouldn't be mean to anyone, even the girl's friend who I had still not seen kindness in yet. At least I hadn't until the end of the year. I asked the teacher if he would sign my yearbook. Of course he did, and when he finished the girl had come up to me. All I could think was to be nice. I asked politely what was going on. She asked if she could sign my yearbook. I was, honestly, a bit worried. I wondered what someone who could be so mean to me the entire year could possibly write in my year book. But I reluctantly handed it over. She took it back to her seat and returned it at the end of class when the bell rang. All she did was slip it on my desk and mutter the word sorry. Immediately I panicked. Sorry about what, I thought. I flipped through to a few pages in where I saw the new comment. In a little corner, in red pen she had written:
"Really sorry for all the mean comments me and ---- gave you. Sorry. Hope to see you next year."
And then she had signed her name. I was shocked. I didn't know what to say, not that I had to say anything she had walked out with the rest of the class, but still I was speechless. She was being nice. After everything that had happened to me, the goodness a person could possess now surprised me.
I hadn't seen a real lot of goodness but I believe anyone who tries can find it. It might not be that they are nice to everyone, or that they do the best things, but it can be that they do what is right when they have to. They do what they can when they feel they can. Like in the article by Stephen Jay Gould that we had to read, goodness could be as small as twelve apple brown bettys when they needed thousands. The smallest act of kindness in the world can mean all the goodness in the world for the ones who choose to see it. And I chose to see it in the small acts of kindness from those two girls. I chose to believe they did the right thing for the right reasons and not to clear their consciences or for some other benefit. It was still the right thing to do regardless. And that meant the world of goodness to me.