anne mikolay 2012 120We humans are quite a contradiction. We enter the world the same way, breath the same air, put our pants on one leg at a time. But we sure look at the world differently. In the past week, I have come across examples of the best in us and the worst in us. Thus, I give you: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good: There's a “feel-good” story making the rounds on the local news. While chatting with customers who inquired about her paw print tattoo, Clinton, New Jersey bartender and dog lover, Christina Summit, mentioned her beloved pet required surgery after eating a tennis ball. The procedure cost a hefty $2,700, a sum Christina was determined to pay to save Tucker, her black lab/great dane mix. The customers ordered drinks and dinner – and left Christina a $1,000 tip to help pay for Tucker's medical bills. When contacted by the establishment's manager to verify the authenticity of the tip, the generous couple wished to remain anonymous. This tale of good-will features two outstanding elements: 1) it's amazing a pair of strangers would part with any amount of money, let alone $1,000, to assist someone they just met; 2) the philanthropists desired anonymity in lieu of their fifteen minutes of fame, proving their pure intentions. The bartender's benefactors asked only that Christina “pay it forward” and do something kind for someone else. Now that's humanity at its best.

The bad: Recently, I was baffled by the Meryl Streep film, August: Osage County. Strong themes are clearly evident within the first few minutes of the film, and I wondered why such “colorful” dialogue was necessary to impart those themes. I've always considered Meryl Streep and her co-star, Julia Roberts, class acts; hearing four letter words pop out of their mouths every few minutes was jolting and offensive. Go ahead and call me old-fashioned, but I am not so out of sync that I deny the necessity of strong language for effective characterization. However, excessive cursing, especially by women in film, is degrading. August: Osage County may have garnered high praise from film critics, but its dark themes and trashy language made me cringe. I can't tell you if the movie improved after the first half hour; I stopped watching. To me, it was nothing but bad.

The ugly: The Huffington Post reports TMZ has obtained a tape of a conversation between Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, and his girlfriend in which Sterling declares he does not want her to bring black people to his games or post instagram photographs of herself with black individuals. This is downright ugly; no further elaboration is required. But Sterling is not the only guilty party in this. TMZ released the tape in order to stir the pot. And that is ugly, too.

I suppose the good (yes! Pay it forward!), the bad (the dark, the offensive), and the ugly (the dirt) are all just a part of humanity. But when the bad and the ugly turn my head, I remind myself of the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”