We rarely engage with gratitude, failing to see how much worse things could get. Henry Ward Beecher, G.K. Chesterton and Charles Dickens. Art by M. Raimondi
When we are mistreated, most of us react, and reactions are emotional. We get angry, upset and we grasp the wrongful treatment with both hands, like a crab might his dinner.
We look up at the ideal we fall so short of, embittered. If only that target wasn’t so high, or better again, if it didn’t exist at all, we wouldn’t appear so dreadful! In doing so, we bring the heavens crashing down to join us in the slums. Now we are level.
Why would we assume bad intent? Maybe because we believe, on some level, it is no less than what we deserve.
In this act they redeemed their tragedy. They represented the very best of human nature, shouldering their suffering and showing courage in the face of fear.
The old moral philosophers called it the ‘finis ultimus’ (utmost aim) or ‘summum bonum’ (greatest good). The utmost to aim for in terms of our character, for those around us and our society.
Without us realising, every choice we make contributes to who we become, shapes our character and our integrity. Like droplets of water, over time, they will make an ocean. If we really believed we are a result of all our choices, perhaps we would choose more carefully.