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    • Some people are very successful at picking good people to associate with. We all talk about red & yellow flags, but what about green ones? What makes you think someone is good?

    • Hmm. This is something I struggle with actually because I want to believe everyone is fundamentally honest and well-intentioned, but unfortunately I’m learning that’s not the case.

      Someone close to me is retired now but made his living owning a chain of Hallmark stores. He says people stole from him every single day. Security cameras showed long-time employees, innocent looking customers, people you’d least expect were regularly the culprits, and theft (in many forms) was so prevalent he became jaded.

      I tell my kids when they get lost to find a mother with kids to help them. So that’s their green flag. Maybe mine would be an indication of how someone acts when they think no one is watching? Do they follow rules? How do they treat the vulnerable (elderly, children, etc.)?

      I also tell my kids (and myself) to pay attention to our feelings. If someone is making us uncomfortable, even (especially?) if we can’t explain why, that’s a red flag. But the converse is also true. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to bestow an amount of trust on a total stranger just based on feeling in my gut they were trustworthy. I think that that second type of discernment comes with age and experience though and I don’t recommend that approach to my kids as much.

    • I just started reading James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty and came across a passage about some of the killers he has prosecuted that made me think of this thread:

      “Evil has an ordinary face. It laughs, it cries, it deflects, it rationalizes, it makes great pasta.”

      I’m not sure we can ever really know what is in someone else’s heart and mind...

    • Wow, incredibly powerful.

      When I was a Bishop in the Mormon church, I found out a lot of things about people's private lives, I guess like a Catholic Priest probably does. One thing I found to my surprise is how much good some people did anonymously. They didn't like being found out and I thought that was very curious. Most of them never told me why they are giving or doing anonymously, they just were and could I please keep it to myself. I have the impression that they didn't try to cultivate an image of righteousness about themselves; they were interested in other people and supporting causes.

      I was also stunned in the other direction when people I believed to be so virtuous did something terrible. I would go to my boss, the stake president, and ask what to do. I often considered the terrible thing to be a lapse, a moment of weakness, because how else could such a seemingly good man or woman do such a thing?

      The stake president was wise and said I had to be careful because people who go over the top in carefully cultivating their image through public service sometimes have something to hide or are compensating for a guilty conscience. I found this impossible to accept at first.

      But over the years I came to the same impression. I later found out this can be a real problem for lawyers: innocent clients often do not try hard at their trials because they know they are innocent so no need to engage in performance art about their image. They are sometimes found guilty whereas someone who engages in crime gets away with it by cultivating their image and fooling juries.

      I have some lawyer friends who say it's soul-destroying to watch their innocent clients get caught by surprise and go to jail, and see guilty ones go free.

    • I teach my kid what I see as my two highest principles.

      1. What makes a good strong person - someone who stays true and honest to their values no matter what circumstances they are in. (The story of Christ being a perfect metaphor of someone who's soul wasn't corrupted by others)

      2. Follow your purpose for being on this Earth - to make your positive contribution and improve it. In the end thats what will matter most - not how much money you have or how popular you were. Be an individual.