I have a friend who has a hard time not being nice. For a wide range of reasons, he lives outwardly with a sense of peace, engagement, and care that reflect his aspiration for others, including myself. I know that he has dark nights where he wrestles with fears, uncertainties, and demons of his own creation. It is not that he hides these struggles from those within the trusted circle. His openness has a priority and focus. His intentional actions, taken routinely, fill me with hope and a sense that Good will triumph over Evil.
The contrast between his actions and others is stark. The only proverb of the scorpion and the frog crossing the river rings true. Evil cannot help being evil. Individuals driven by self-centered behaviors regularly return to the model reflecting closely held values and priorities. Looking from the outside, “they scavenge for bones, and bite the hand that feeds them.” (Psalm 59.15) Nothing is off limits or sacred. Trust is a commodity taken and consumed at will.
It is not always easy to know. A stranger is introduced and my natural reaction is to trust and welcome. Inevitably, mixed events follow. Some moments are brilliant, fun, hope inducing, and for the benefit of all that are within reach. Other moments are examples of greed, selfishness, and fear. It is hard to see what is real and what are choices made in difficult circumstances.
As I reflect I find myself returning to the beginning. It is the small acts during the regular course of a day that tell the story. The quiet choices made when nobody is watching, paying attention, or reviewing after the fact, that tell the inside story. In one example, I consistently find a selfless interest in others, a willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt, and a belief that everyone has something to contribute. With this beginning and a pure heart, good things follow.
I have an example that inspires me. Although not perfect, I know I can, with Divine support, be God’s hand, voice, and ear.