Let us renew our hope in humanity. It’s so easy to lose faith when someone cuts us off on the highway when a friend blows us off (for the second time) and fails to show, when we get burned in a business deal, when a co-worker doesn’t do what they said they were going to do, or when a colleague fails to keep their promise, etc.
At the same time, we DO encounter people showing heroic acts of kindness in our day-to-day lives. I’m talking about the simple things. In my case, there have been many examples:
* When I was running in the pouring rain, without an umbrella, wearing a spiffy suit, on my way to a meeting, a kind lady (a stranger) offered me her umbrella, gave me her address, and trusted I would return it when the rain died down.
* One day I had left my clothes in the Laundromats drying machine. When I returned to get my clothes, I was expecting a big piled-up heap of clothes to be thrown on the table, as usual. But this one time, some stranger had neatly folded ALL of my clothes right down to the socks and put them in a neat little pile beside the drying machine.
* I had lost a very nice leather-bound binder that was as good as new and would have made a really nice accessory. A couple of days later I got a kind note from a stranger saying they had found my binder and that they would keep it in a safe place until I picked it up.
These random acts of kindness prove that people have an enormous capacity for good. I’m sure we’ve all seen this in action during the wake of the Tsunami disaster where so many Tsunami Heroes rose to the occasion risking their own lives to help save the lives of others.
And yet, when people don’t meet our standards of proper conduct and common courtesy, it can sometimes be so easy to lose hope, become bitter, and develop a hardened heart. I myself had an unspoken rule that came down to three strikes, and you’re out.
It was pretty ruthless when I think back. Although I didn’t follow that rule right down to the letter, it was pretty close. So if someone failed to come through for me three times in a row (didn’t show up for a meeting or came really late, failed to honor their word, or kept avoiding an important issue that needed to be addressed) they were basically cut-off from my life. Needless to say, I lost a lot of friends (and business) that way.
Life is not a baseball game. Life is life. It’s an unsolved mystery. We need to renew our hope in humanity and embrace people with a wider-vision of who they are, so they can eventually expand and grow to fill that space. If we don’t give people much space we will continually be disappointed as people keep coming short of our expectations.
It is far better to make the extra effort to look for the good, to look for the Buddha within than to look for the bad. Nelson Mandela could have come out of jail a very bitter man. Yet he CHOSE to hope! Here is an excerpt from my book, Psychology of the Hero Soul, which illustrates the point:
Nelson Mandela, a man who suffered years of cruelty and injustice at the hands of his enemies, was still able to see a ray of hope in humanity. In his autobiography, he wrote: I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there are mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to the limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.
Let us renew our hope in humanity. And if we are to err, let us err on the side of compassion, generosity, and tolerance.