People Are Strange

Teresa Roberts
5 min readFeb 15, 2023

Stranger Than You Think

Cemetery in Ireland (my photo)

There are those who view the world through rose-colored glasses.

I thank you. We need your faith in humankind to keep striving for a better world if for no other reason than we owe it to the children we insist on birthing.

But we need my kind, too.

I’m not the darkest person on the planet, but I haven’t owned a pair of rose-colored glasses in years if I ever did. I register high on the empathy scale. That’s a mixed blessing. Rose-colored glasses would come in handy when I feel the pain and suffering of humanity like a kick to my solar plexus.

Ouch! Wince!

There it is again. Another sleepless night due to unwelcome images of humans doing what humans love to do, hurting one another. Contrary to what the rose-colored-glasses crowd will tell you, most people aren’t necessarily good. At best we’re a mix of good and bad traits, selfish and unselfish tendencies, and varying degrees of natural empathy. I write about empathy a lot because I’ve suffered due to registering so high on the spectrum.

As a child, I had a hard time accepting that humans can be so heartless even cruel.

I was a history buff. Still am. History is basically a story, our stories. There are so many horrific stories strung together, all leading from the past to the present, that it can be overwhelming. It takes people like me to listen to those stories and feel the pain of our ancestors in my body in order to push an agenda for change.

You’re welcome.

We like to think that most people are a version of us. We also like to think that we have a wide scope from which we view the world. That people don’t have to be just like us to be good people. We also tend to think we’re a good example of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. It takes a lot of self-awareness to see ourselves the way others see us.

But if we barely know oursleves, is it possible to truly know someone else?

I wonder. How many times have we’ve heard those who live next door to a serial killer claim that they had no idea what was going on. Zero. In fact, the killer is often described as a quiet man who kept his lawn clipped and his house painted.

Here’s a story that recently made the news. That’s right. A couple in their fifties found dead in their home where they kept 150 cats. Cats everywhere. In every room. Even in the walls and ceiling.

It shocked the neighbors. They had no idea what was going on behind closed doors.

My mom lived with my dad for years and never realized he was molesting his daughters. How can you live with someone and not know they’re a pedophile?

But it happens every day.

People like me, those of us without rose-colored glasses, tend to see the world through a microscope We’re keenly aware that humans are their own worst enemies. We read about Anne Franke in school, and it sticks with us. How do ordinary people allow such things to happen to little girls?

But they do.

Our way of unpacking our feelings is to be on the lookout. Rather than breeze along feeling safe and happy, we examine the world carefully and are constantly aware that there’s good reason to pay attention. If we have kids of our own, we worry about their safety, because we know full well that there’s always someone who could be lurking in the shadows.

We remain vigilant so the rose-colored-glasses crowd can frolic and play.

We take things seriously, so others don’t have to be burdened with the heavy responsibility. We are bothered by injustices and racism, all the societal ills that deprive many of opportunities and a better life.

We are considered too WOKE and pessimistic by many. Why must everything be taken to heart?

But we can’t stop even if we wanted to do so. It’s how we’re constructed. Our best bet is to not read the news. We need to spend time healing. Maybe with our pets. We must take a long break from society from time to time. We require walks in nature and time to breathe fresh air.

We know we’re different, but the world would be a brutal place without us.

Maybe we’re the sin eaters. Have you heard of this strange practice where the family left food either on or near their dead loved ones to absorb their sins, and then the village sin eater ate the food? It gave the family of the deceased comfort knowing that their loved one was forgiven for what they might have done while alive.

The sin eaters absorbed it all.

Humans don’t usually know what goes on behind closed doors, but empaths have a sixth sense when it comes to unsavory practices. We can’t be in the presence of a person without sooner or later picking up their vibes. Our friends and acquaintances may not have a clue, but we know something’s not right. When we witness cruelty and suffering, we can’t easily keep our mouths shut and ignore it.

It preys on our minds for hours even days.

The fact is that it’s behind closed doors where people let their hair down and can be their authentic selves. Whether it’s a serial killer, a child molester, a Nazi, a racist, and an abuser, you name it, only their families get to witness these horrific behaviors. We don’t even know if someone has 150 cats in their home. People tend to wear their smiling masks when they go outside.

And families have no talk rules to guard their secrets from one generation to the next.

Of course, humans can and do accomplish wonderful things, but history is proof that people are equally capable of causing pain and suffering. You may live in a quiet little middle class neighborhood, but you have no idea what’s going on behind the closed doors of your neighbor’s house.

It might scare you to death if you did.

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.