The conversations started happening once I was in college, probably my sophomore year once I moved away if you’re someone into the specifics. I would be back at home for vacation and my dad, already well aware of my drinking habits, would pour out two glasses of wine and gesture for me to sit down. He is always playing the devil’s advocate. Never agreeing with your view point, only challenging the ways in which you reach a decision. This is a characteristic that can drive you nutty unless you surrender yourself to the process.
He likes to agitate people. It’s his entire goal, but these days whenever I feel myself pulled into that direction I try to remember to take a breath and not take it personally. I tell myself that because that is exactly what he says to people who get emotional in what he refers to as “discussions.” I used to never like these conversations because it always felt like what I said was wrong, but now I appreciate it for what it is. An exercise in seeing things from a different perspective.
My dad has become skilled at cutting through the bull and going directly to the core of something. People have a lot of excuses or will use a lot of fluff to describe a situation but my dad always calls it like it is. The conversations we have cover a variety of topics and usually they hold no single answer or solution. We’ve talked politics, oppression, relationships, human rights, and sometimes out of nowhere he’ll just say something out of the blue that is so simple but strangely powerful.
It was Friday and my dad and I were driving to my aunt and uncles house separately in our mini van. It was mostly a casual conversation about what seemed to be a million different things when he said:
“People think they’re fighting against a machine. There is no machine. There are only people. There are good people. There are bad people, and there are people who think they are doing good but others disagree. Most people don’t even have the capacity to understand. It doesn’t make them a bad person, they just don’t get it.”
I don’t know what prompted it, but I as soon as I heard him say it I knew it to be true and I knew that I needed to make a note of it to write about later. People tend to manufacture their own reality or create these illusions of what they think it means to be alive in this world. Sometimes it feels like there is this great force in the way of what we want to do, and it seems useless but we are all just people. People working against other people and trying to communicate through the blunder.
There is no big secret or mystery it’s just individuals at play with their own powerful ambitions and motives. It kind of reminded me of something a professor told me once. She always would say that everyone is on their own journey and you have to accept where they are at. You may not agree with them but it doesn’t make them a bad person. It’s just who they are.
Now there are genuinely bad people in this world but I think that sentiment of not having understanding is also true. We tend to overcomplicate our lives and blame everyone for our heartbreak and disappointments, and we have our reasons to do so. But people are just people. Good, bad, and the ugly.