People Are Human – Richard Grinnell

People are human, a fact which we may forget in the course of doing our jobs. Obviously, we expect the person with antisocial personality disorder to forget this fact in the course of doing her job. But this omission is also perpetrated every day by many knowledge workers, service providers, and even manufacturing laborers. People are not to be fixed (or destroyed), plied, maligned, underestimated, or any of a myriad of things. They are to be given dignity and sought after by digging (figuratively) beneath the surface. Dale Carnegie advocated this very position.

We dig below the surface to find out who they are, what they want, and how we can help them get it. Sounds like a marketing ploy, doesn’t it. Well, it doesn’t have to be. Asking caring, discerning questions of someone shows we care about them. Following up at a later date shows we value them as a person. Helping them meet deep-seated needs shows them they are meaningful participants in our community. Our ends come too quickly to neglect this obligation. For many in the US, we live an average of only 28,600 days plus or minus 950 days from start to finish. We try and fail to prolong it much beyond 43,830 days.

What happens after a rain when you dig in a garden, in your lawn or at a playground? You bring up mud and maybe things a lot worse. There are a few persons in every circumstance who are not safe with which to interact. Turn these in to the authorities, if possible. If not, flee them. There are some others who will cling to the attention giver. These must be told that they are responsible for their own wellbeing and that no one person on earth can fill their need. You must maintain boundaries for their good and your own. The majority will want to be known and will appreciate the attention and care. To the contrary of the exceptions, the majority may not reciprocate the gesture seeing no need to do so towards you.

Life is the one opportunity we have to make a positive difference both in our own lives and that of others. Are we taught to be indifferent, to objectify others, or to hold others at arm’s length even while we might provide care, service, or labor? Yes and no. We are afraid to get hurt so we say it doesn’t matter. We face so many needs in a day, perhaps life and death ones, that we disassociate the needy from their humanity so we can cope without our total emotional collapse. Perhaps we recognize the need and seek to serve it so far but no further. We definitely train ourselves in these behaviors through repeated practice.

However, and more fundamentally, we can change our behaviors and feelings of authenticity will follow. This requires us to exert our wills, knowing what must be changed in our behavior and doing it. Through practice it will ‘take’. Get up from failure and try again. This is the way we’ve been made.

You may not accept it but we were made by a righteous Maker who expects perfectly right behavior. He went so far to free us from the ties that bind us to wrong behavior that he paid the penalty for our actions. The cost to Him was the death of His Son as a substitution for our own so that we might live. His Son’s death was payment for an infinite debt each of us owes to a just God. He will attribute the merit due His Son to us if only we surrender to Him from our hearts.