Charles Anthony Solorio

Are People Basically Good or Not Good?

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Chapter 7

(Please read chapters 1-6 for the context of the weaving of nonfiction topics and a fictional story unveiling a historical truth)

reading time: 10 minutes

Our central question is, “Could our life story be based on a lie?” Based on the invitation given to you in chapters 1-5, and if you’re still reading, it looks like you stepped further into the other Story. 

Good move. 

Or maybe it wasn’t so smart. I still sometimes stumble my way through life.

May the grace of God be with us as we stumble together.

Years ago, I started experiencing numbness and tingling in my arms and legs and generalized weakness. My symptoms fluctuated but never went away. Do high levels of stress and anxiety ever make anything better? Let’s just say my faith was lacking. 

I was weak.

Working in the medical field, I knew what my symptoms indicated. I was staring in the face of multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Over the course of several years, I convinced myself that denial was the best treatment. I knew I had MS, and there was no cure. What would be gained with a doctor formally labeling me? I might as well wait until it got really bad.

Brilliant thinking, right?

Of course, the symptoms persisted. Someday, I would confront it. After several years, I wasn’t getting better. I eventually grew tired of living in the shadow of my self-diagnosis. 

So there I was in the neurologist’s office. He and I knew there was only one thing to do.

Have the MRI I’d been avoiding.

I didn’t want to know the truth. 

I wanted to know the truth.

My relationship with Denial was complicated. I didn’t want to let go of her clingy embrace. She comforted me in toxic ways, and I liked my toxicity. She gave me a sense of control over the situation, and it was easier than the alternative. It was complicated.

In the MRI tube, I prayed for help. Would my wife and I have to sell our older home since a wheelchair wouldn’t fit through the doorways? How was I going to work and provide for my family, now with a young son? 

At work the next day, our receptionist told me I had a phone call from a nurse. My first thought was that the MRI must have come back negative. They wouldn’t tell me I had MS over the phone, right? Or was she going to tell me I needed to see the neurologist so he could break the bad news in person?

I wiped my shaky hands on my pants in a private room as I did not know how I would respond. Friends at work knew me as being unshakeable, and I did not want to disturb their false sense of reality.

I picked up the phone. The nurse introduced herself and told me the truth.

I did not have MS. 

The years-long burden lifted. I was free.

The MRI revealed the truth, and it freed me.

What if an MRI could reveal the truth of a long debated question to free us. Are people basically good or not good?

With a hostile crowd understanding the ramifications of a negative answer, answering this question could get you injured or killed. 

We first need to ask, Who defines good and bad? 

Jesus answered these questions. Is that not why the cultural elite hated and murdered the most beloved and influential person who ever lived?

If you ask someone, “Are people basically good or not good?” the answer will expose that person’s point of view (POV) we covered in previous chapters. From God’s POV, we all fall short compared to Him. But people tend to use their own POV and grade on a curve based on whatever is convenient at the time of grading. 

As discussed in previous chapters, we have two choices for POV. The POV in the story we have been told would tell us the POV we should use is anyone else’s but God’s. The POV in the other Story tells us the POV we should use is God’s. 

Without a God in the story we have been told, there can’t be an objective moral standard from God that everyone is equally accountable to. The moral standard defaults to either each person decides for themself, the powerful/influential decide what is right and wrong for you, or a combination of both. 

Rather than facing a judgmental God condemning all of us, we feel good saying everyone is basically good. With this presupposition, we think we can avoid thinking about God, ultimate judgement, or guilt. This affects how we view ourselves, our relationships, our religious or non-religious views, morality, politics, and our level of trust in our leaders.

The other Story explicitly contradicts the story we have been told. It tells us our hearts are messed up. We are broken.

Look up these Bible verses:

Genesis 6:5

Jeremiah 17:9 

Ezekiel 36:26 

Mark 7:21-23

The heart is “deceitful and beyond cure.” The heart is a “stone.” “The thoughts of the heart are only evil,” and from the heart come “evil thoughts.” Human hearts are full of “sexual immorality,” “theft,” “murder,” “adultery.” I think you get the idea. 

Imagine someone telling you that your heart is full of these things. Pretty offensive, right? Saying these things to the wrong person could get you killed.

But what if it is the right diagnosis for the human race?

On a national level, we need to get this right. If we believe all people are basically good, we will one day place our faith in a horrifically flawed leader wanting more power over us.

On a personal level, we will miss the cure for evil, not believing there is evil or a problem that needs to be fixed.

I once ended a friendship with something I said, and my friend did not respond to my attempts to reach out. I have hurt loved ones with stupid things I said and with stupid things I did or did not do.

You have too.

Why? Because something in our DNA caused the cancer of evil to mutate and multiply within us.

We live with guilt that is killing us. Our unresolved guilt makes us miserable, and in our misery, we hurt people.

As the saying goes, “Hurt people, hurt people.”

The flawed founding fathers of the United States declared independence from a king who was oppressing and persecuting them. The pilgrims and the framers of the Constitution formed a nation based on the presupposition that the human heart was evil and needed checks on it for people to be free. Different branches of government required checks and balances to resist flawed human hearts in positions of power. 

Even with perhaps two of the top five documents ever created, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, many men and women, including the authors and signers, failed to follow all of the ideals in those documents. They did not protect their brothers and sisters from slavery.

The other Story acts like an MRI to diagnose and describe what is wrong inside each of us. This is what a loving Father does. Would you be a loving parent if you knew a fatal disease was slowly killing your child, and you censored the truth of the disease and the only cure?

Still think all people are basically good? We may say all people are basically good, but we do not live that way. 

Do you use locks for your house and car? Do you have home and car alarms? Does your phone lock? Do people have guns to protect and to commit crimes? Do we have police? Laws? Courts? Jails? How many passwords do you have? Do you utilize any kind of cybersecurity? Do you shred your personal documents? Have you taken martial arts or self-defense classes? Have you done background research on people who work with your kids? Would you trust a stranger alone with your child?

If people are basically good, why do we have, or do, or concerned with any of these things?

It’s time to admit our weaknesses, and through the only POV that matters, our hearts are not good. Our hearts are evil compared to God. We know what we are capable of when no one is watching and when we think we won’t get caught. 

No more denial. We are numb to what we do and have generalized weakness. 

Armored and armed with love, it is time to have a revolution within each of us. We must rebel against the denial of our sins and our denial of the other Story. 

One life can change everything.

This time let’s get it right. No slaves. No racism. No injustice against others.

My Pastor brought up an interesting thought on what the middle verse of the Bible is. After doing some research, the location of the middle verse depends on what translation is used. But there is a traditional belief that the middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 118:8:

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.”

Psalm 118:8

Is that verse by accident?

Considering all the sin within us and in the world we struggle in, above ground our hope looks like a dead stump. But underground . . . something is moving. 

Are you ready to move forward on the great character arc of your life? 

Okay, God. I am broken. Fix me.

Let’s talk next time about what the other Story says about how we got broken in the first place.

Raise up the other Story,

Charles Anthony Solorio

If God says I am broken, I need to be fixed.

Today’s song: Matthew West’s Truth Be Told

top photo credit Tasha Jolley, Unsplash

middle photo credit Marquise Kamanke

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