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Today my braincare specialist asked me how I define someone as "a decent person".

I don't know. I do know some people who I think are, but I'm not sure how I know or what I am seeing.

Later I realised that we often don't think about that so much as make pragmatic decisions about what we might get from other people. Numerous times I have had people say they know (or infer they know) that so-and-so is a right bastard to [insert person/group here] but he throws great parties/has the same hobbies/has an sense of humour/is physically attractive, or whatever. And I have done this too.

But - decent.

What makes you decide that you are looking at a decent person?

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ozswede
Jan. 6th, 2016 09:43 am (UTC)
What an interesting question. It seems like such a common word - yet I would not have thought to use it in this context as it is much abused. I don't use it to describe people, but more an object or experience (eg It was a decent film meaning it was not bad but not great) or perhaps knocking on my teenage son's door and asking Are you decent? I only use the word decent when I'm stating something as being on the borderline of good and bad, no matter the context.

When I worked in court, it was a phrase often used to try and defend the accused in a case and I guess in that context they were trying to say that this person should not be judged by this isolated criminal action because he/she was a decent person (nice, polite and respectable). I even see it being bandied about at the moment in regards to the blow up over Jamie Briggs, who has been described by family and political cronies as a "decent man", although I guess in this instance they are misusing the word to mean "I'm a decent man" = "I am right, you are not" In many cases when people use the word about themselves, it is because they can't see past their own character flaws.

I guess if pushed, the "decent" your specialist might be referring to would be covered by the word considerate for me. It's not about being the best, as some people think. I don't necessarily want people to be nice, polite, respectable etc as that's easy to fake, but I do judge people around me by how much they are there for me when it is really needed. I have friends who are often cranky, forgetful and would be described as "not nice" by social norms, but who are the very first people on my doorstep offering practical help when it's needed. I don't need fairweather friends to pretend to like me and fawn all over me, but to be kind and accepting of me, warts and all. I think deciding if a person is "decent" in that sense takes time.
maju01
Jan. 6th, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
I agree with ozswede's definition, and for me I think it includes being kind, especially to older people/children/animals - someone who does the right thing even when nobody is looking.
ozswede
Jan. 6th, 2016 02:57 pm (UTC)
Excellent point about doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. I'd absolutely put my husband in that category - he constantly puts me to shame with his goodness of heart.
pondhopper
Jan. 6th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
To me there is a very simple answer to this. We all make mistakes but not everybody admits theirs and apologizes for unwittingly hurting someone perhaps because of their fucking up. A decent person recognizes theirown shortcomings even when it is embarrassing to do so.

A decent person is one who does not willfully hurt others and will avoid making others feel badly about themselves whenever possible. Kindness...a decent person is kind and cautious about jumping to conclusions about others.
dragonsally
Jan. 7th, 2016 12:32 am (UTC)
This
A decent person is one who does not willfully hurt others and will avoid making others feel badly about themselves whenever possible. Kindness...a decent person is kind and cautious about jumping to conclusions about others.


Or, in summary, a decent person is one who isn't an arsehole.

Edited at 2016-01-07 12:32 am (UTC)
pondhopper
Jan. 7th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
Or, in summary, a decent person is one who isn't an arsehole.

That is a very good summary of what I meant.
:)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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