Sunday, 5 June 2011

Good or Bad ?

Post by Graham

One of the endearing traits of Unitarianism is that its followers are always inclined to think the best of people, not the worst. They are not hung-up on sin, believing everyone is essentially wicked, but think rather that all people carry a touch of the divine within them which is frequently revealed in their interaction with others.

I myself fully subscribe to the latter view, and yet I find nowadays more and more people are wary of their fellow men and women. Whether in this age of unnatural fears the media have contributed largely to this attitude is debatable, but what is not questionable is its existence.Why else would young mothers drive their children to school, even in a village like my own, instead of letting them walk a few hundred yards to the school`s gate ? Why else would our local recreation ground, where my own children spent many happy hours playing when they were young, be deserted even on school holidays ? I admit the computer has much to answer for in this regard, but the main reason for so few children being left out alone is surely the fear on the part of the parents as to what might happen to their precious offspring, should they meet an evil predator.

I do have sympathy with this attitude of many young parents today, but I still believe their fears in many respects are unfounded and that life today is no more frightening than years ago, and that to believe every stranger is a likely paedophile is a grave mistake. I shall relate two perhaps trivial personal incidents that illustrate the fact:

A few years ago I helped a young girl, who had smehow got separated from her mother, across a busy road to rejoin her family. I took the girl by the hand and led her safely to the opposite pavement. The look of the mother, who said nothing, was one of complete horror. I was made to feel subhuman, a monster, evil personified. The second incident, which happened recently in a local coffee shop, was even worse. I was enjoying a quiet cup of coffee on my own when a young mother entered the cafe, pushing a young child in a pram. The pram was placed facing me, and, for some reason, the lovely young lad looked at me with interest. Perhaps he suspected that here was someone who related well to young children, especially boys. I smiled at him. He promptly returned the smile, and so we continued in silent communication until the mother realised I was looking at her child. She then immediately turned the pram around the other way so that the young lad was facing the wall. How sad ! What a reflection on modern society.

I left the cafe depressed and chastened. I couldn`t help thinking that it would be so much better to give people the benefit of the doubt and subscribe to the Unitarian view that people are basically good, not evil. If we all did the same I am sure we would live in a better world and it would certainly do wonders for our peace of mind. Perhaps we Unitarians are naive and utopian in our outlook; perhaps wev are fighting a losing battle in this world where every possible crime is reported, but perhaps we are right to stick to our guns and try and lead the way back to a more civilised and humane society.


  1. I love catching the eye of a child in a pushchair,
    perhaps while waiting in a queue at the check-out.

    The two of us can have a bit of fun in an otherwise boring interlude - pull a funny face - make a funny noise - pretend to hide etc.

    However, I always speak to the mother if she notices what is going on - what a lovely boy/girl !! - how old is she/he ? etc.

    Invariably the proud mother is immediately quite pleased that the child is noticed.

    It is all a matter of communication with both mother and child which alleviates suspicion.

    I was once sat in a plane next to a Muslim complete with a bushy black beard and a copy of the Koran on his lap. He kept bending down and fiddling with his shoe, which made me wonder if he was a shoe bomber.
    To relieve my own tension, I spoke to him in a friendly way about the Koran and he was quite surprised and gratified at my interest.
    Again, communication was the key to resolving my fears !!

    What was that old biblical quotation ? - "ask and it shall be given unto you"

  2. Roger- I can't believe you would think I would not try to communicate with the mother in both of these incidents I have mentioned. Both mothers immediately turned away from me and clearly regarded me as a pariah- there was to be no point of contact. Anyway, lel's not lose the main point I was trying to make: There's more good in people than bad!- Graham