I have an artistic friend who sees art everywhere. She can look at the close up of boxes stacked together and see a pattern that, to her eye, creates a work of art.
I often look up from what I’m doing and marvel a little at the beauty that surrounds us. Little things capture my attention, like the way the sun or moonlight is glimmering off the rib of a palm frond. I take photos of the sunset almost every night, because there is always something different in it that appeals to me. The setting sun might be casting perfect palm tree shadows on the pool. A cloud will be glowing pink and gold. Even the storms here are beautiful, with the contrast of dark clouds against the varying blues of the sea.
It occurred to me recently that I’ve started looking at people in the same way. I expect the best of everyone. I expect honesty and kindness. I used to be more wary of people, and I still find it difficult to get to know someone. I have found, from talking to neighbours and friends, that if you look for the worst in people, you’ll probably find it.
Consider some of our prejudices, and I’m sure I have my own. People of my generation speak dismissively of “millennials”, yet I wonder, what age is a millennial? The young people I know are not glued to their phones. They are not selfish and self-absorbed. They don’t have any sense of entitlement. They are hard-working, social, intelligent and thoughtful.
Yes, we hear about certain behaviours that make us say, “Entitlement!” I don’t think that word is exclusive to any age group. There are people in their 30’s, 40’s 50’s, 60’s and older with a sense of entitlement.
My point here is that when we have these prejudices, we treat people a certain way. Are you giving everyone a fair chance to demonstrate what is great about them? Are you open enough to accept people with their differences and still see their inner beauty. Have you had a real conversation with that young, single guy, or that beautiful young woman? You’ve made your assumptions, but do you really know them? Do you know how much loss they’ve had in their lives? Do you know if they are happy where they are in life?
Look for the best in a situation, the “silver lining” to use a cliché. Look for the beauty in your surroundings. (I know, easy for me to say that here in Paradise, but I find beauty wherever I am.) Finally, expect the best from people. Sometimes you’ll be disappointed, but I think, more often, you will learn how complex each individual is and that almost everyone has something wonderful to offer.
There is a lovely quote from Mother Teresa. I am not a religious person, but I did like this. “People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best, anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Whether you believe in God or the power of the universe or nothing, what can it hurt to be kind and generous and honest? It can only help make the world better.