There is an essential formula for life in which, if you remember this ratio, you will do OK and won’t lose hope about the state of the world. That formula is the 80/20 split. Some optimists go so far as to suggest that it is a 90/10 split, but I suggest they have led sheltered lives or have been smiled upon much more benevolently than maybe they were entitled to be. Me? I’m a realist and opt for the 80/20.
What this means is that 80% of the people we deal with are essentially (in varying degrees) just fine, but that 20% are hideous manifestations of humanity in some respect and are to be avoided, or shunned, or locked away, or shot, depending on the extent and severity of their depravity.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of how this works. The idea originated in my mind from my counselling of alcoholics and addicts. There is therein a verifiable statistic in most societies that indicates that 80% of all alcohol is consumed by 20% of the population. Obversely, the 80% remaining consume only 20%. That is why stats showing per capital consumption in any society are skewed, because they reflect only the habits of a fifth (appropriate, somehow) of the population.
By the way, 80% of all social, legal and medical ills can also be ascribed to that 20% of hefty boozers.
In the broader spectrum of life I have found that the formula still prevails. For example, on Saturday night, sometime in the wee small hours, some assholes of some sort drove their vehicle up into the playing field of the park across the street and turned wheelies on the ball diamond and just thoroughly messed the crap out of a well-maintained facility designed for the pleasure of all. My first impulse was to think that this should be a capital offence, and if I’d been given a gun I’d have gladly pulled the trigger. Such trash has no right to continue to share the planet with the rest of us. The same thoughts apply to graffiti daubers, spitters, utterers of the vilest of profanities within earshot of the public, and so on.
Of that incident, I have no doubt whatsoever that the perpetrators were juveniles. Juveniles who will, however, fall into that moronic and dysfunctional 20%. That is, even with kids, 80% are (in varying degrees) decent, hard working, pleasant, and non-threatening. I can walk into any high school in absolute comfort, and I know from my own teaching days that most kids are (and always will be) pretty darn nice.
The 20% however, are the ones that will populate our prisons, break into our homes, and terrorize us wherever we go. The solace is, however, when you are walking down the street in any city or town, eight people out of ten are just like you, and will not harm, mug, assault or rape us. Keep a wary eye out for the other two in that crowd of ten, however. They’re bad. Bad to the bone.
I’ve found that even in groups that may have issues that have rendered them less than functional, the 80/20 formula still prevails. Working at a rehab I even found that 80% of even crackheads were still OK human beings who had simply messed up in a tragic and potentially lethal manner. My heart went out to them.
Of course, as a final thought, we have to apply that 80/20 to our own behaviors. That is, 80% of the time we are thoroughly decent, but during that 20%, well, even Jimmy Carter confessed to lusting in his heart for people he wasn’t supposed to be lusting over.