Never Give Up

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

Life is complicated for everyone. Even as children we may be forced to endure situations that might be better left for adulthood. We encounter bad people and horrible situations as we journey through our days. Our innocence is tainted by ugly events. Almost nobody manages to live without hurt no matter how hard they attempt to avoid it for themselves or their children. Simply interacting with the world can lead to disloyalty and disappointments. I doubt that there are many adults on the planet who have not been betrayed at one time or another. Sadly, sometimes such disappointment comes to even the very young. 

I probably seem to be a bit naive to most people. On most days I attempt to keep my optimism at the forefront. I believe that the vast majority of people on this planet are essentially good, even if they are flawed. None of us are perfect and most of us try every single day to be kind and compassionate. How we do that is often influenced by our cultures, our educations, our religious and our political beliefs. We come in many different varieties, but our essence is a striving to be the best versions of ourselves. It is in the moments when we are overcome by fears and anger or tiredness that we end up hurting someone else, often unintentionally. 

I believe in people. I love people and I try not to let my own weaknesses or differences of opinion color the way I interact with them. I understand that I will not always think the same way as everyone that I know. There will be times when their behavior and beliefs mystify me. There will be moments when our ideas and beliefs clash. This should not mean that we can no longer be friends or that I no longer care for them. In a perfect world we should be able to still love each other even when we seem to have little in common. 

Sometimes people do things that fracture our personal relationships with them so badly that we know that it would be unhealthy to continue to be around them. We must divorce ourselves from contact with them or descend into a cycle  self-abuse. Sometimes we even have to punish the most vile among us as a society, lock them away to protect ourselves. That does not mean that we must give up on them. It is truly possible to shield ourselves from hurtfulness while also continuing to hope that those persons will somehow find inner peace and a way of changing their lives. 

While many who hurt us never seem to find a way to mend and heal, it is something that happens, and when it does we should all be cautiously ready to celebrate their victory over the demons that once made them toxic. We each know of someone who managed to change for the better. I believe that it is incumbent on all of us to accept the possibility that each human can do penance and turn their lives around. We must be ready to forgive those who sincerely manage to do so. If we only want to keep punishing those who fell from grace no matter how they have tried to repent, then we may as well give up on a significant proportion of the world population. 

I am determined to never give up on anyone. There have been times when my willingness to forgive those who have hurt me has come to naught. Nonetheless my heart and my mind is open to the possibility that one day even the most horrible among us might genuinely live to regret their actions. While I may not see fit to return them to a normal life, I will encourage them to make peace with those they have harmed and with themselves. To me that is the essence of how we humans should all live.

The history of the world is filled with darkness and inhumanity. It is a fact of life that grave injustices have happened over and over again. We see them happening even now. They are both big and small. There are wars in many parts of the world and everyday hurts and abuse inside homes. We should be able to talk about these things and discuss how we might prevent the kind of anger that causes us to turn on each other. We need to consider how we might teach ourselves to hold our tongues when a sharp comment comes into our minds. We need to learn how to forgive and really forget the small slights that we experience. We must value and embrace people more rather than dividing ourselves into tribes. 

As a teacher I invariably encountered students who fell from grace. They did annoying things and sometimes horrible things. I had to discipline them and even punish them for their infractions, but I never turned on them. I never stopped caring about them. I always hoped and prayed that they would learn from their misadventures and grow in wisdom. I think of them to this very day and hope that they eventually found themselves.

I have been hurt by people that I thought were friends. They abandoned me and threw away our long time relationship over our diverging views. I attempted to explain myself and to apologize, but they gave up on me. They pushed me out of their lives. While it was and still is very hurtful to me, I have never given up on them. If they ever choose to return I will embrace them just as the father invited his prodigal son back to the family without reservations. 

People are too important to give up on them. We all need to have someone who believes in us, someone who thinks there is a chance that we might mend ourselves as long as we are drawing a breath. Some deeply evil and shattered souls may never get there, but if they do it is a glorious thing. We may be wary of their intent and be cautious about letting them back into society, but we should never give up on them. Call me cock-eyed. Call me what you will, but it is who I am and what I believe.


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