10/27/2012 07:47 EDT | Updated 12/27/2012 05:12 EST

Dispatches from Down East: Seeing the Best in People


What if we saw the best in people? When our spouse offered to do something in a way that we did not prefer, instead of complaining, we saw the good in the effort. Not how annoying it was that they did it differently. Or wrong. Or what if when our children decided to "help out," only creating more work for us in the end, we saw the good in their eagerness? Not how delayed we now were in cleaning up the mess and getting off our schedule.

What if we saw the best in ourselves? The hard work, the effort that we put into our jobs, our marriages, our parenting, our families, our homes. The time we invest in the people we love, in the projects we care about, in the ideas that matter to us all point to the fact that we are truly success stories when we stop and think about it. What if for even a day we saw ourselves as successes, not failures? As winners, not losers. Triumphs, not disappointments.

Sometimes it is hard to see the best in people. It is hard to see the best in a spouse, friend or colleague who doesn't live up to the expectations set. Who views the world through a different lens or view point. Who doesn't share one's passion and goals. Or worse: who inflicts pain and makes life misery. And yes, it is also hard to see the best in children who argue, whine and cry about the pettiest of problems. Who complain and fuss about your teaching or parenting style. Who give you grief and heartache. And a premature head of grey hair to boot. Lest we forget, it is sometimes hard to see the best in ourselves. We are often our own worst enemy. We fall short of our own high expectations and desires.

It is true. It is hard to see the best in people. And particularly hard to see the best in people who are willingly hurtful. Who take advantage, take for granted or abuse. Who are insensitive, spiteful, wounding. It is hard to live in a world where people are hurting people everywhere. But then again. Everywhere you go, people are hurting.

And that's the thing.

People everywhere are a little bit fragile. We are afraid. Hurting. And looking for acceptance and common ground. And as hard as it is to see the best in people, we can visibly see the hurt that sometimes hides the best that people have to offer. And when the hurt is removed, bit by bit and little by little, there is a person exposed, vulnerable, with feelings, reasons and pain. What if just for today, we tried to understand that person. And walk a mile in their shoes.

I'm not talking about being a doormat. This is not about passively accepting things for what they are, but about trying to unravel the mystery. It's about seeing that inside every wound is the possibility for healing. Inside every book are the words that tell the story. Inside every person is a soul. And there is potential and purpose and possibility that lies therein. If only we believe in one another.

What might happen in this world if we took it upon ourselves to understand and truly know what are the secrets behind the masks of pain? Behind our differences? Maybe the world might become a better place. And l'll be truthful. Where would I be if the ones I love hadn't taken the time to see the best in me? Seeing the best in others is like paying it forward: once it happens to you, you want to believe the best about others too.

Because people matter. And we show that people matter through our committment to understanding. For understanding is merely seeing. Seeing is just believing. And believing is what makes all the difference.

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