October 18, 2015: Guys in White Hats
Over dinner last night, Garrett asked why I was tearful at the end of the movie we had just seen.
After a slight pause and a little thought, I summed it up simply.
"I'm such a sucker for the good guys."
Yep, that's me. I love the guys and gals in the white hats. And I find myself a tireless fighter against the bullies of the world. This was once coined to me as my 'sweet and salty' personality. I'm not quite sure if this is the proper description, but I'll take it.
Bullies have always caused the hair to stand up on my neck. In fact, as I reflected on the white and the black hats of the world, I thought of an old blog post reiterating stories of my youth and college years when I took on the bad guys (at least those who I thought were the bad guys). One was a college encounter and the other a childhood memory outside of Remsen St. Mary's grade school.
And then about twelve years ago, I attended the funeral of a friend's father. A farmer in a rural Nebraska community, the priest described this highly ethical and upstanding man as 'one of guys riding the horse while wearing the white cowboy hat'. He went on to describe this farmer who led with character and treated those around him with all that was represented by the guys in the world who wear the white hats. This simple analogy has always stuck with me.
Around the same time, my mom gave me 'the talk' on how not all people who walk this earth have good in them. I argued with Mom, trying to convince her that all people had some good in them. I felt that it was up to the good people to bring out the best in others, even those who wear the black hats. Mom was stern with her Pollyanna daughter.
"No, Sandy. Unfortunately there are bad people in the world with ill intent. It isn't your job to bring out their good. In fact, they will likely use you while you try to the achieve the impossible. And as much as you don't want to accept this, there are just some plain bad people in the world."
Like a cold bucket of water poured over my head, it caused me to be better understand that there were clearly those who wore white hats and those who wore black hats; and then the many in between.
My mom was rarely wrong.
So what got me at the movie today? The movie was Tom Hank's new flick, Bridge of Spies (very good, by the way). There was a point in the movie where a young American spy professed his innocence to Tom Hanks as others questioned his loyalty to his country. Two characters in white hats were in the public spotlight.
Tom's answer was simple, but hit home.
"It doesn't matter what people think. You've done nothing wrong."
The other person in my life who is rarely wrong, my dad, gave me similar advice some years back.
"Don't defend yourself, Sandy, if you've done nothing wrong."
Sounds like an easy feat, but not that easy for me. I work hard to wear a white hat, so feel blemished when hints of doubt cloud my own character.
A lot can be learned from these wise words. Sometimes actions with pure intent are misconstrued by those from the outside. Fighting bad guys is not for the faint of heart. And people will judge. Even those wearing white hats. It's a flaw of being human.
The truth always seems to make its way around in due time. And if it doesn't, so be it. There really is only one ultimate judge in our lives, and He doesn't roam the earth.
I won't give away the ending to the movie, other than to say that Tom Hanks was a smart man in his words and actions. And, yes, I really am a HUGE sucker for the good guys.