If you believe everything you hear these days, you might think that your neighbors are out to steal your job, brainwash you and your children, and are bringing about a horrible new world order. The hyperbole we use to label and judge groups of people is the worst it has ever been in the history of the world. Ever. See what I did there?
Disagreement is natural. To some, it's even a favorite pastime. But it seems that instead of talking, listening and finding common ground, more and more people prefer to get others worked up and turn simple disagreement into "Us vs. Them" or even "Good vs. Evil". When that happens, it can lead to anything from strange looks on the street to fear of others to bullying to open hate and violence. That's not cool.
Let's face it, there are unlimited differences between you and any other person, from religion to race to politics to what kind of cellphone you use or what sports team you root for. If we all focused on those disagreements and differences, it would be impossible to be friends with anyone because everyone would be a "Them" or "Evil".
So, are you evil? Assuming you aren't designing a building in NYC to summon a shape-shifting god of destruction, I'm guessing the answer is "no". In fact, I'm willing to bet that the answer is, "of course not." We may disagree on things, but "evil"? I don't think so.
Everyone is different, and that's a good thing. If everyone were exactly the same, life would be pretty boring. But too often we avoid talking about our differences for fear of offending someone or taking on negative stereotypes. Unfortunately, people can feel strongly against a particular group because they don't know a lot of people from that group, don't understand their differences, or have had a bad experience with a person who shared that particular quality. A lot of great people get grouped in with "Them" that way. It only gets worse when people feel that learning about our differences or hanging out with people we may disagree with on one issue makes "Us" one of "Them". However, getting a variety of ideas from people with different experiences is the best way to solve the problems we face.
The fact is, people with different opinions, backgrounds, and philosophies are doing good deeds every day. Some of those deeds are big, and some are small, but every one of them is bringing people together and breaking down stereotypes. Purposely dividing people because of their differences only makes a community weaker. Seriously, would you debate a firefighter about his religion or economic philosophy before he saved your house?
What defines you?
The No Evil Project encourages you to start a new conversation and set new opinions. First, choose which labels you want to represent. You don't need to be a Muslim Tea Party teacher or a gay undocumented Wall Street trader - there are stereotypes about everyone. You've heard them about yourself either seriously or in jest (trust me, I've heard every short joke and Norwegian joke out there). So take them on.
Next, show us how you're not evil by sharing something good that you've done or how you contribute to society. It doesn't have to be something big. What you do as an individual isn't defined by how some people may feel about the labels that represent you. Showing that lets others see you as the individual you are, rather than some mysterious "Them".
Granted, some people out there need the visual. That's where the photos come in. What better way to show you're not evil than to pose as the three wise monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil? Plus, it's kinda fun, and who could be upset with or scared of someone willing to pose as famous monkeys?
Camera shy? That's fine too - you can still help by liking the No Evil Project Facebook page or passing this site along to your friends or other organizations that may appreciate it. There are many ways to help out.
Let's make a difference about differences.
I don't believe the majority of people out there are evil or that they think others are. I believe a variety of ideas and experiences leads to stronger, more vibrant communities and better solutions to the problems we face. We should be proud of our differences and how we contribute to society, rather than trying to blend in.
So if you're not evil, and want to show others that you're not evil too, I hope you'll join the project and help spread the word. Let's see how many non-evil people we can get to join us!