A few years ago, I was challenged by a wise teacher to consider the belief that we are all doing the best we can. It seemed simple enough to think of the glass as half full, to perceive people as kind and to see that light is brighter than darkness. Then the unimaginable happens- a person intentionally creates harm by taking away a precious life.
If I allow myself quiet stillness, I can almost begin to touch on the pain of others’ hearts. I feel deep sadness for the loss of loved lives and immense fear for the loss of my own loves. I then move to picturing the hands that hurt. When i’m feeling my initial anger, I don’t want to give my grace. They were not doing the best they could but as I sit with my anger, it softens. Eventually clarity seeps in. I realize that it is not about them receiving anything from me. There will be acts so horrendous that forgiveness seems untouchable. If we see for a moment a person that is hurting, however, we can forgive imperfection even if we can’t forgive action. And maybe forgiveness isn’t saying that it is okay to cause hurt, but really saying that I am not okay holding the hurt. It is not tolerable to intentionally harm another life, but me hating you is too heavy a burden for me to carry. I’m not giving you a pass; I’m giving me peace.
We may think others are capable of much more, but maybe they don’t believe that. Perhaps they really are doing their best with what they have in the moment they are in. Who are we to judge another’s best? This doesn’t excuse behavior but allows explanation, and explanations have the power to create kind responses. Ultimately, treating ourselves and others with kindness is most essential. Conceivably we are all love, created to be, give, and receive love. Darkness has a way of creeping in and if we let it, it dims our light. It is possible to acknowledge evil yet energize love. I believe that we are all doing the best we can to choose kindness over hate, light over darkness, love over everything.