There is a stream of thought that takes the line that nasty behavior and cruelty are merely the byproducts of a bad environment. That people only do vile and sickening things because someone else did the same to them. But I don’t believe that for a moment.
We are all capable of incredible goodness and have the potential to bring enormous blessing to this world. Yet, we – the very same folk – are also capable of unspeakable evil. How bizarre is that?
This potential we carry within us is constantly potent regardless of who we are. We all have it. For the most part, the majority of us tend to express this dual potential within a mid range of behaviors (so we are no better or worse in our actions than most others).
But on the periphery, there are those who take life to the extremes and that can be brilliant or unexpectedly horrid.
For the most part our news media is full of the latter, with crimes and terrible acts perpetrated against the vulnerable making the headlines. It’s reality. Yet it’s only a small part of a greater one that has nothing to do with such things.
The reason I mention these extremes and, particularly, the terrible ways people behave is because these horrible events can cloud our perspective. We can become overly focused on how bad people are and how fearful we ought to be in response.
In the light of this, I believe happiness needs depth to be durable. It requires more than froth and bubble to withstand difficulties and disappointments, and it requires a way of thinking that accepts life isn’t always good.
The potential for misery is an aspect of reality, just as jubilation is too. These extremes are part of life’s mix, but they are not its definition.
To make the most of it, what you and I can do is avoid burying our nose in gloom or wringing our hands in fear about all the many things that can go wrong. With the knowledge that we can make our own life a statement of kindness, courage, and wisdom, there isn’t time to become preoccupied by problems. In our own life we have the opportunity to create a place of peace, and a presence that encourages. Doing so doesn’t need you to go to extremes – just to be yourself in the best ways.
Our life is powerful response to hatred and hostility. We can, for instance, be the very people we want to see. Our actions and our ideas can bring the vital ingredients into the life of those around us who would be relieved by our kind-heartedness.
I know some will think this is too schmaltzy and glib. But I believe your life is your ultimate statement, and it’s either going to be one of uncertainty, despair, or determined hope. By choosing, we begin the path of becoming.
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