By: Sue Curry Jones
People are an enigma.
Watching people is entertaining.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel by plane, you’ve experienced sitting in the boarding area where ticketed passengers wait to depart on their designated flight.
At first glance it seems easy to discern whether or not families are enjoying their travels. Or perhaps couples traveling together tell a story with their facial expressions. Business executives offer a similar visual, some diligently work, while others fidget and sigh. One individual sits upright appearing content, ready to depart; whereas, another slumps down, irritated and malcontent.
Body language gives non-verbal signals that communicate a story.
And, dichotomies in behavior prevail.
But making visual observations doesn’t reveal depth of character. It doesn’t tell what is lying inside the heart or mind. Visual observers are not able to accurately assess inner integrity by appearance or actions. Nonetheless, human nature prods us to try.
And unfortunately once in a while, even after knowing someone for years, you still get duped. There are those adept at pretending –– they say all the right things, but as time goes by, actions prove otherwise. Body language, indeed.
An attorney friend advises, “people cannot break the law ‘just a little bit’ –– they either break the law or they don’t. The law is black or white, it’s only in their mind they can justify what they do.”
It’s in their mind. We really never know what thoughts are occupying someone’s mind.
But this is nothing new.
Charmers and deceivers have been prevalent throughout history.
In the Midwest, during Depression years, John Dillinger, a dapper dresser and charismatic personality, readily captured the hearts of many Americans. He was deemed hero or Robin Hood of the poor.
More recently, Frank Abagnale, Jr., a master of deception, was not only a charming personality but a brilliant escape artist who for years stayed one step ahead of the law. He was beloved by many while pursuing a long list of deceptive ways. Hollywood showcased Abagnale’s criminal career in the movie “Catch Me If You Can” and yes, he eventually got caught. Now living life on the right side of the law, Abagnale works as a private consultant, author and public speaker educating the public and federal agencies on how to prevent fraud, scams, and identify deceptive people.
Whether today or past years, it has always been hard to discern whether or not a person has your best interest at heart or if their motives are self-serving. So blindly we trust, knowing the risks and possibilities of being duped, lied to, or taken advantage of.
There is an old expression that claims “wrongdoers have the most to lose.”
Those words have little truth.
Wrongdoers have nothing to lose because integrity and honesty are absent in their make-up from the get-go. Integrity never possessed cannot be lost.
Being bad “just a little bit” may be rationalized in the mind, but as my friend noted above, no matter what the chosen degree of offense, no matter how big or small, wrong is wrong.
Anne Bradstreet, an English poet and noted writer from the 1600s explains life’s dichotomies best––
If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
People’s actions will continue to be a mystery, an enigma.
In the meantime, life goes on.