…How do we keep believing the best in people when reality portrays the worst of them?
When we look on our lives to see how far we’ve come, who we are and what we stand for today, there is the relative tendency for us to skim past the pain we have brought upon others in days gone by; to forget the blood on our own tracks too only because it is now foreclosed in the memories of yesteryears.
But the good person we are today and have the potential to become tomorrow is not inevitable. The progress we’ve made in our life is as a result of the commitment we make every day to break free of yesterday’s mistakes and its karma tomorrow. I do not think it is fate that makes us seek to overcome past evil with good in the present, but a desire we cultivate to keep doing good that tomorrow may bring better fortune.
Better fortune often requires the willingness to accept painful outcomes in life with little bitterness. We may feel bitter at the cause of our pain, but we do not stay bitter. Why? People who once hurt us may change tomorrow, forgiving them today is how we set ourselves free from a past they no longer live in. Understanding that people do what they do not because they know what they do, but because of the stage they are in their journey helps to expand our capacity to let go of bitterness.
That is what Abraham Lincoln understood 152 years ago when he said “with love for all and malice towards none.” I believe he was saying to all mankind that there is no pain too grave to overcome; no cut too deep that won’t heal; no sin that can’t be forgiven. Only the strong will survive and only the strong will keep hoping against hope for the best in oneself and in people. If we do not make mistakes, if people do not wrong us and situations do not stretch our limits, then character cannot develop.
The whites who joined their voices to the cause of black equality is an example of the good in humankind. To lose faith in the inherent goodness of humanity is to be overcome by bitterness, to choose ignorance over wisdom, to live life beneath our potential and to give up the power to break the cycle of unfortunate events that overwhelms us today.
So though reality checks in with the worse, we cannot give up giving our best and believing that better people are out there, frustrated like us too maybe, but still living, loving and forgiving.
Live. Forgive. Love.