I have a co-worker who finds amusement in calling out other people’s faults. She will talk at length about anyone and everyone, from what people are wearing to who is falling off the diet wagon and from who skips out of work early to who would rather be bar-hopping than home with their family, and so much more. I have never heard her admit that anyone is doing anything right, except of course herself.

I used to try to interject with some positive discussion about people’s accomplishments, which were usually dismissed.  I then tried to subtly say that I didn’t know the person she was speaking of, so I couldn’t comment. When this failed to curtail the endless commentary, I not-so-subtly avoided meeting my co-worker anywhere outside the conference room. I got tired of her never ending judgements, and I certainly didn’t want to be guilty by association of bad-mouthing everyone in the office, and frankly anyone who came into her mind.

I may not be the most positive person in the world, but I really don’t want to be trudged into negativity every day. I prefer to think the best of people and, if they must, allow them to sink themselves without my help. When I was younger, my favorite movie was Pollyanna (still love it). I loved the part where Pollyanna is speaking with the reverend and he reads the necklace given to her by her father. It contains a quote from Abraham Lincoln, reading “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”

I am certain this is a philosophy we are seeing in action in our country daily. From nasty social media posts to offended college students, and from humorless monologues to self-serving politicians, we hear, down to the minutest detail of everyone’s perceived failings, yet very few are able to concede when someone does something good. We are a nation of fault-finders. We look for the bad in people and are only too happy when we find it, and can let everyone else know about it. Scandal is the news that turns our world.

Fault-finding is an immature way to gain attention. People, who want the spotlight, will say whatever they can to diminish others in effort to benefit themselves. Rarely do these fault-finders ever have anything positive to contribute. They just want to make sure that everyone else knows who or what has been bad. It’s childish. Instead of lending a helping hand and contributing to solutions through constructive conversation and action, fault-finders focus their attention on spreading negativity and burying the person or people with whom they found fault.

We see it every day in the rants on social media, the finger-pointing and ugly talk of the politicians, and the often-offended college crowd (students and faculty). We live in a country where everyone is expected to be faultless, or they are not worthy of respect and dignity. We drag people through the mud and destroy their reputations.

No one is without fault. We all make mistakes. Get over it. Learn from them and move on. If you want to make a positive difference, reach out your hand to help. Lift people up. Help those around you see their strengths. Give people a chance to do good.

Look for the good in mankind, and you will surely find it.

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