Good Guy? Bad Guy?
I am a people watcher. I like to study human behavior. In my observations over time I have identified some simple categories based on behaviors that different people exhibit. They are generalizations, but they help me understand and manage expectations.
Types of people:
- Morally Ambiguous, Some Good-Some Bad
- Always Helpful
- Helpful at Great Personal Cost
In Col. David Grossman’s world, the predators are the wolves. They prey upon others without fear. They would meet the definition of psychopaths and sociopaths. They have no conscience. They are extremely narcissistic, and prey upon others without remorse. They plot and plan, manipulating, and seeing the long game. These are stalkers, rapists, assassins, gang members, financial scammers and extortionists.
These people prey upon others only when the opportunity presents itself. We watched a video of a man hit by a car and lying in the street unconscious. Various people walk by, but it’s the two opportunivores who decide to rob him, taking his watch, wallet, cell phone and even his shoes. Several people stop to take selfies with the unconscious man. No one calls 911. An opportunivore will see unchained bicycles, and steal them. “It’s the owners fault for leaving it unchained,” they rationalize.
The human violence we abhor and fear the most, that which we call “random” and “senseless,” is neither. It always has purpose and meaning, to the perpetrator, at least. We may not choose to explore or understand that purpose, but it is there, and as long as we label it “senseless,” we’ll not make sense of it.
― Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence
Morally Ambiguous – Some Good, Some Bad
These folks can be persuaded in either direction depending on the social environment. They have no real moral compass. Influenced by peers, these people are chameleons, doing what is necessary to fit in even if it’s extreme or unethical. These are the wanna-be gang members, the petty criminals and those who are indifferent about humanity. They are more concerned with their own day-to-day problems.
They will be helpful to others as long as it is not too big of an inconvenience. Willing, but not volunteering. Not inclined to hurt others or prey upon them. Fair weather friends. If asked, will chip in. Generally want to know what is in it for them. Once involved, may quit if the going gets rough or the personal sacrifice is too much. Be wary of these types.
Always Helpful – The Good Friend
Someone you can count on to be there. There is an old saying: Good friends help you move, best friends help you move the body. This is the Good Friend category. They are interested in what is best for you. Trustworthy, reliable, decent. Everyone should have one, or a few. They are also the community builders, invested in helping others, and
making some sacrifices to do so. They are also known as Good Samaritans, and are willing to stop to help a strange
Helpful at Great Personal Cost – The Big Sacrificers
This person sacrifices personal resource, time with family, even well-being to serve. I have friends in the SpecOps community that fall into this category. They do whatever is necessary to keep the wolves at bay. Grossman calls them the Sheepdogs. But I prefer to think of these guys as Wolfhounds.
They not only protect the flock (every category from Morally Ambiguous on down), they hunt the wolves, often at great personal cost. They have a strong moral compass, but show no mercy to the wolves. Loyalty is their byword. Society is generally not comfortable with the people in this category, because they are predators of a sort, however they have a conscience, and a commitment to a greater good. But some people want to keep them locked up until the wolves show up.
Of course, these categories are generalizations. But they do represent behaviors I have seen. The big problem is that the distinctions are hard to detect without personal experience with someone. I can think of acquaintances who fall into each categories, and have seen people move between categories over the course of years.
The question you must ask when meeting another person is:
what has this person given themselves permission to do?
I have an acquaintance whose spouse is in regular contact with an old girlfriend. It makes the spouse unhappy to know the relationship is still ongoing even though they have been married for many years. He says he’s just being friendly. If he has given himself permission to do this in spite of her wishes, what else has he given himself permission to do? What category does he fall into?
In the course of running onPoint Tactical, I have made many friends, and acquaintances, some in each category. The one trait I have come to appreciate the most is Loyalty. The one friend who helps you move the body, so to speak.
I use this scale to evaluate myself and other people I know. I want to be in the latter category. Sometimes that works, other times I fall into other categories. But for me the paragon state is someone who sacrifices at great personal costs. Take a few minutes and see who among your friends and acquaintances fits in which category. It may cause you to reevaluate some relationships, or even save your live.