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Can someone do bad things and yet still be a nice person?

Christmas time is a time of reflection.. I was thinking about my life.. people I've known.. things that happened.. and I got to wondering... what if someone hit and beat up their kids, allowed them to be abused... might they still be a nice person? What separates them from someone else who encouraged or drove them to do that.. is one a victim, are they both perhaps victims themselves?   

I suppose I wonder too... we are none of us perfect; we've all done things that others haven't.. like I think swinging and open relationships are perfectly ok for some people; and there's some research that suggests marriages in that set up are often stronger as there's greater communication and flexibility.. someone called me disgusting for saying that.. so we don't all think the same way.. what's right, what's wrong, what's good and what's bad...   

Posted - December 26, 2018


  • Most are nice to those who are nice to them.  Some just don't give a crap about anyone, including themselves.  Those are the ones to avoid at all cost!
      December 26, 2018 8:20 AM MST

  • 35990
    Wives of serial killers are often astounded.  They say their husband was a perfect gentleman and never gave cause for alarm.  Nice always. That is what was said about Scott Peterson before he murdered his pregnant wife, Lacy.  These people may even try to be nice always, but they are not wired correctly.  Something is very off with them.  
      December 26, 2018 8:24 AM MST

  • 691
    Frequency and intensity matters there!
      December 26, 2018 9:50 AM MST

  • 22273
    i dont think so
      December 26, 2018 12:53 PM MST

  • 7166
    There's lots of gray areas. The true sociopath, the one with no conscience, I would consider "bad." It's estimated they make up 4% of the population. Those who also recognize they're harming others and continue to do so, both mindfully and of their own volition, I would also consider "bad." 

    Of the person who abuses his or her kids, also bad. Of the person who watches it... that depends. You're as much of a psychology nut as me. So, you know about things like the Milgram experiment (shocking the person on the other side of the wall at the urging of authority). There are lots more, all suggesting we're prone to do as we're told. When you throw in things like Stockholm Syndrome and PTSD... we know that people also do what they have to do to survive and keep their mind as intact as possible under the harshest of circumstances. Well, that would make the inactive viewer "normal." Sadly, it makes them remarkably normal. And, we see this in all kinds of circumstances too. For example, the bystander effect. If there's a group of people, there's a good chance nobody will step in to help a victim. 

    So, I can look at these situations and say they're certainly not nice, but are the people really bad? Bad for doing what their brains are expected to do? My mom watched all her children get beaten. To this day, she believes we deserved it, though perhaps not so hard. She never understood what that meant to us. She never understood what it was like to grow up in a household where our only daily motivation was to find a way to not get hit. Now, she's had a stroke and pieces of her brain are missing, but that's the way she felt when she was "intact." She was always broken. I don't think she was a "bad person," but she was a bad mother and a very damaged person.  

    As I write this, I can think of so many examples where people have done horrible things or failed to act and I personally cannot fault them because I know it's part of the human condition. And, that is precisely what makes people so dangerous. Because they can and will do unspeakable things or fail to act in order to cope or because they don't feel personal responsibility. It's enough to make me want to swear off people altogether. We cannot hope for more. Nice people and good people do bad things. 

    But, at the same time, we have people who break from the norm and do extraordinary things. In the US, we hail the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 as heroes. And, they are. If they were exhibiting "normal" behavior, they would have sat idly by during the hijacking. They didn't, and that's what makes them so special. That's why we honor them. First responders of all types and the military sit in the same realm. They go into danger time and time again. They're not normal. Thank goodness they're not. Teachers who have protected their students in school shootings and died as a result. Not normal. This is why we celebrate their lives. I could go on and on, but the point is, we have a lot of respect for people who ascend; for those who do great things and sacrifice themselves for the good of others. That's purely because it's not normal human behavior to do so. 

    Yet, I also have a feeling that our heroes are remarkably human too. And, I'm sure people in all those groups I mentioned have done bad things. We wouldn't call them bad people, not by any stretch of the word. 
      December 26, 2018 12:58 PM MST

  • 5578
    I think you have explained exactly what I was thinking but I wasn't sure I had the words! I agree.. and I also had my mum in mind.. I think she was a good person but very damaged and a really awful mum.. The Milgram experiments came up for me recently... my therapist at the time, (therapy is part of my course/training) didn't seem to understand why I have to tackle unfairness..  I explained to him that I'd be one of the small minority who would say no this isn't right..  I am programmed that way.. and yet at the same time, a week later I was put in a position where I had to do something that I believed was wrong, to save my job, which in turn saves me and more importantly my daughter - it wasn't terrible.. I just made a call to say someone had arrived.. but I knew they had something bad in store for him and I knew this because I'd faced the same thing, as had my daughter.. SO even I, the one who believes in standing up and being counted - gave in and ratted on someone.. No one is immune I guess from good or bad deeds..  
    We are all only human for sure. 
      December 26, 2018 2:48 PM MST

  • 5686
    Yes of course.  But when has Christmastime been a time for reflection?  I have always thought it was more about celebration.  Unless of course we prefer to reflect which we then probably do much of the time anyway. 

    A "nice" person is not the same as a "good" person and we more think of a nice person as being more socially correct and pleasant and accommodating and helpful.  Who knows what darkness they have? 

    As far as being "abusive" - people now constantly throw that word around but I can't see that absolutely anything we don't happen to like or are offended by or hurts us is necessarily "abusive".  We were never struck but some kids we grew up with certainly were physically disciplined by their parents which I saw as a good and caring thing because it was to make them better people.  On the other hand I cannot see anything good in just striking out at someone out of my own frustration which I have occasionally done. 

    As I have mentioned previously I do not care for the term "open relationships" because they are not "open" at all.  And in fact require great care and understanding and acceptance and discretion to live.  As I have been accused of "not believing in monogamy" on here which is not at all true. Is it better to have the best of intentions and fail at them or be less idealistic and more practical in terms of relationships?  For me that has more been the issue.  As well as my own need to feel desired and to give myself.  In which case once the sex becomes really good (which does not happen every day) it just seems a shame to let it go when we can ride it out.  Swinging has its own pitfalls as does extramarital activity as well. My husband is very understanding and accepting and I try to see that he is able to enjoy himself as well with others but it was not what he was brought up with and I am sure there are times when he has been disappointed by me or even hurt.  Though we are best friends. 
      December 28, 2018 7:11 AM MST