Archive for July 20th, 2008


The Human Stain

If you’re reasonably well read or have seen CSI or Law & Order or some similar show on TV at least once, you porbably know that something like a blood stain on a wall can tell forensics experts a lot. It can tell you from what direction a shot was fired, from what angle, from what height, from what distance, and all sorts of other good stuff—or, well, bad stuff…but useful stuff all the same.

Simpler stains can tell us things, too. A big old coffee stain on that important signed paperwork on your desk may be a sign that you need to be less sloppy or start keeping your coffee and your papers on separate surfaces. An ink stain in your shirt pocket is a good sign that you need a new pen. A lipstick stain on a collar all too often tells a wife that her husband ain’t doing right while he’s outside the home. A pee stain on the carpet tells us either the new puppy needs a bit more house training or that someone in the house has taken serious leave of both their senses and their bladder control.

We need to look at our stains.

What stains have we left in life? Why? Where? Who is affected by them? Whom have we stained directly? What can we do about them or what should we do about them?

Obviously, I’m talking metaphorical stains now. And I mention them because when we look ourselves and what we do in life, we generally give ourselves a pass. I examine myself and my motivations and I see a guy who’s in the right. You do the same thing, probably, most of the time. Truth is, we are usually pretty poor at locating and recognizing our own worst faults. Even the worst villains in the world still generally believe that they are doing what is right and proper, if not for society than for the most important people in the world: Themselves.

I say that we need to look at the people around us and see if they are stained. And then we need to establish if that stain was our fault. And if so, fix it.

If your child is suddenly acting odd and not speaking right and seems nervous around you, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’ve been putting undue pressure on that child or being rotten to that child or perhaps not spending quality time with that child.

If your co-workers seem to get quiet when you enter the room or don’t seem to want to socialize with you, maybe you should ascertain whether or not you are a jerk at work.

If your spouse is emotionally distant maybe you need to examine if you’ve been open enough emotionally and whether you are doing right by your spouse.

It might turn out that you aren’t the problem, or at least that perhaps you’re only part of it. And even if you aren’t the problem, identifying a stain on someone’s life presents you with an opportunity to help that person get past it and clean one piece of crap off their life’s problems. Bonus karma!

But it may also turn out that you have to admit you’ve done wrong, and realize you aren’t always such the good person you think you are.

The problem is, we’ll seldom see our failings in the mirror. The best place to see them is often in the behaviors and actions of those whom we interact with daily. Those people are the mirrors we need to look into.

Look deep.


Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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