What Did You Mean By That? // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

A19FPM Two couples walking into sunset Tucson Arizona.

“Half the harm that is done in the world,” said the poet, T.S. Eliot, “is done by people who want to feel important. They do not mean to harm. There are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

I’ve discovered that most of the time, people mean well. Even when they speak or behave in troubling ways that makes us wonder — they mean well.

It’s best to give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

Yet, at the same time, it is also beneficial for us to examine our motives, and try to understand more deeply how our behavior affects others.

Sometimes, winning the argument loses the fight. A marriage counselor once asked a distraught husband, “Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?”

After a frustrating conversation one day, I thought, “What he said spoke so loud, I couldn’t understand a word he meant!”

Perhaps, the best path is mapped out by St. Francis of Assisi, who prayed:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive.
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is dying that we are born to eternal life.

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