In our journey through life, we try to be the best person we can be. We try to be kind, helpful and generous. Only to have people walk all over us.
Rabbi Harold Kushner is fond of saying “just because you are a vegetarian, doesn’t mean the bull won`t attack.”
The question is with all the unfairness, the injustices in life, why even bother to love and to forgive? Why even bother to be kind?
There are words of wisdom that say that we should love and forgive anyway. Here are the words of Mother Teresa:
People are sometimes unreasonable and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motive.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you
Be honest anyway
If you find happiness, people may be jealous
Be happy anyway
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough
Give the best anyway
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God
It never was between you and them anyway.
And a quote on a refrigerator magnet reads: “Dance as if no one was watching;
love as if you`d never been hurt.”
So the question needs to be asked why even bother loving, forgiving, being kind? Everything seems so futile.
I think before we criticize others for their negative behaviour, we should look within ourselves. We should take a look in our own hearts to see who we have offended and violated.
I learned a long time ago at a 12 step program, when we point our index fingers accusing someone of a fault, three fingers are pointing back at us.
Our weapon is our silence, our apathy. We allow peoples’ pains and anguish to continue by our silence.
We need to forgive. Former president of the University Of Notre Dame, The Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh summed it up nicely: “Why should we be forgiving and merciful without measure? Maybe the simplest answer is that we are all in such need of mercy and forgiveness that we can ill afford not to be merciful and forgiving of others.”
And, of course, the words of Jesus Christ when He had asked a crowd who was about to stone a woman for having committed adultery: “he who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7)
If we were to look at those who have hurt us, their lives are not to be admired. We need to walk in the shoes of those that have violated us. Maybe we would not be so hard on those that have hurt us.
Wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
Those who have hate and do harm, I believe, must have more hatred for themselves. Those people are incapable of loving and are more disabled.
And our first reaction is to get even, demand vengeance. But in the words of Buddha: “Hatred does not cease by hatred. But only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
But if we are to reach out to the hurting, we have to find the right way to our enemy’s heart. Wrote clergyman Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887): “you never know until you try to reach them how accessible men are but you must approach each man by the right door.”
I think that everyone is accessible. We just have to find the right way.
We have a 50% chance of being welcomed. Those aren’t bad odds. We don’t know how far our compassion will go.
In a society of rugged individualism, there are more hurting wounds. We need to love, forgive, be kind more than ever.
I think if we refuse, the only person we will end up hurting is our self.
We have a duty to love. In the words of the late Dr. Leo Buscaglia: “man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair.”