This is a question that comes up in my life a surprising amount, and very few people have an answer. And while that may not seem problematic on the surface level, this question is at the heart of self-worth.
My husband and I were discussing this recently and I asked him this question. I asked him if he could give me the name of someone he viewed as worthwhile or valuable. He couldn't think of anyone (no, I do not take this personally).
So, I inquired further and asked what his ideal version of himself would look like. He told me that he didn't have an answer to that either although he did say that his ideal self would be comprised of fewer faults.
And while I understand his perspective, I also believe that this kind of thinking is problematic.
If you cannot name a person who matches your ideal, your ideal probably isn't realistic. And if your ideal isn't realistic, you will never be able to become that person. If you cannot become that person, you will never be able to view yourself as worthwhile and that's a problem.
As we were talking, he flipped the question back around to me. Who do I think is worthwhile? I said everyone, and he proceeded to look at me like I was an alien with two heads. "Everyone?" he said, "what about people who don't contribute to society in any way, what about serial killers or people who consciously choose to be evil?"
I told him that, yes, I do think these people are worthwhile, and here's why.
No one ever consciously chooses to be evil from a healthy, well-adjusted mind frame. No one becomes a serial killer out of the blue. No one, who believes in their value, would ever become a drain on society.
One of the fundamental truths of my philosophy is that hurt people, hurt people.
Inside every single one of us lies the potential for great harm: I call this our Inner Monster. This monster is fueled by anger, fear, and a desperate need to survive.
However, alongside the monster, we have our Inner Angel, our ability to become a force for true good in the world. Think of it like the stereotypical angel and devil that we have on our shoulders. We can choose to listen to and strengthen either voice.
Evildoers of any kind have learned to listen to their Inner Monster. And while this is reprehensible, it begs the question: Can these people change and choose to listen to the angel instead?
My belief is yes. To me, there is always hope for someone to change. It may be unlikely, and it might be easier not to invest your time in such a person, but it is still possible. And if it is possible, that person is worth investing time into (provided you can manage to do so without falling into bad practices yourself). And what is a worthwhile person, but someone you believe is worth investing time into?
Many people look at this concept and tell me that I'm naïve. They say that I'm ignoring all of the bad things in the world and, as a result, opening myself up to harm. And, to a degree they are right. However, it's only by allowing someone to be their best self that they actually can be. It's only by allowing someone to be vulnerable that they can feel safe enough to do so.
A worthwhile person is someone who is constantly trying to be the best person they can be.
And while many would argue that serial killers aren't, I believe that this practice is innate within every human and they just happened to wander (very far) off the path.
Why do I choose to believe this? Because it's only by allowing others the opportunity to improve their flaws, that I can give myself the grace to do the same.
No one is perfect. We all have our problems. Sure, some may have more than others, but that just means that their journey is a bit harder.
If I were to look at the worst examples of humanity and say that all hope was lost for them, how could I honestly look at myself and not say the same? After all, I can be greedy, mean, vindictive, and fearful just like they are. Does that mean that I'm not a worthwhile person though?
So, you can choose to believe that there are no worthwhile people if you choose. I, however, will continue to believe in hope.
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