Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A theory about life, and why forgiveness is important

Lately, it has become abundantly clear to me that my life theory ("We're all human, just trying to do our best") has a couple of corollaries:
  1. We're not all at our best all the time, and

  2. Almost always when we're in conflict with someone, it's because we're not both being our best selves.
Look at it this way: when I'm my Best Scott and you're your Best You, we're probably not going to piss each other off, because our Best Usses are both considerate and forgiving. But if I'm not my Best Scott OR you're not your Best You OR (*shudder*) we're both not our Best Usses, then the likelihood for conflict rises exponentially.

So. We're all of us all the time on the up-and-down cycle of life. The realities of being human -- a constantly changing collection of chemicals (hormones, amino acids, etc.) in a constantly changing electrical field (thoughts, emotions, etc.) -- keep us on our toes. Our path is not exactly a sine-wave like in the graph above, but it's a real phenomenon.

The good news is that we're not all up and we're not all down at the same time. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we were all our Best Selves at one time, but I'd be terrified of what it would look like if we were all our Worst Selves at the same time. (I kind of think Evil is what happens when a group of people become their Worst Selves together, but that's an idea for another post.)

Here's where forgiveness comes in.

When I experience somebody else in a negative way, it's a whole lot easier for me to forgive him or her when I realize that he or she is on an up-and-down cycle just like I'm on an up-and-down cycle. I guess this is just a re-statement of The Golden Rule, but it's really made it easier for me to see the world with forgiving eyes.

Therefore, be nice to people. And when they're not nice to you, be nice to them anyway, and just remember they're not plugged into their Best Thems.

And forgive them.


Alejandro said...

¿Y qué de los a-holes? ¿Cómo debemos tratarles a ellos?

Scott S. Semester said...

Haha! Well, AJ, you have a point there.

I guess there are some people who, for whatever reason (chemical imbalance, chronic jealousy, mother didn't breastfeed them, whatever), will always be on the downswing -- or at least their "up" isn't as high "up" as we'd hope.

I think these folks need our forgiveness even more. And WE need to forgive them more -- forgiveness is for US, not for THEM. For example, I once had a boss who was a real jerk. My actions and thoughts toward him would not change his established jerkiness; but my actions and thoughts toward him would definitely change ME. I had to make up my mind to forgive el a-hole so that I could get on with my worklife. He'll act like un a-hole until the day that he dies, but my forgiving him was more an act for ME than for him.

Does that make sense?