It can be hard to remember that are all doing the best we can. For some it feels to me that their best is grossly inadequate and for others, their best is ten times better than mine and that just frustrates me.
I remember hearing the theory that everyone is doing their best. It infuriated me. Hitler did his best? Aunt Pam did her best?! That cranky guy at the grocery store is doing his best? Really? What about murderers? What about people who cut me off on the road?
But really, I think we are all doing our best. Brene Brown says that when murderers are doing their best we still need to incarcerate them. And I agree. And she says that we should not think that doing so will do anything other than make them even worse citizens and I agree with her there too.
But the assumption of generosity is a valuable tool in life. May I assume that the people who disappoint me are doing their best? And if I do, then might that make me more compassionate towards them? And if I think I am doing my very best (even when I am sub-par) might I have compassion for myself? And might that not help me with compassion for others?
What would my life be like if, every time I thought an angry thought about someone, I reconsidered that they are doing their best? And If not – if I hold a grudge, what am I getting out of that? Do I benefit from that grudge? Do I like being right or righteous? Can I give that up? Like chocolate in Lent?
My friend Isaac says it is good to be “soft” with people. He is right.