In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed again used a quote from Anne Frank – “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” One’s beliefs about people have a great deal to do with how they see and live in the world. Anne Frank’s view would generally be classified as optimistic.
The antithesis of Anne Frank’s view of people is to be pessimistic which is defined in in this quote from Fernando Pessoa – “To be a pessimist is to see everything tragically, an attitude that’s both excessive and uncomfortable.” Pessimists seldom see the good in people.
I stumbled across a couple of quotes from one of my favorite sources – Unknown – while looking for the quote about pessimists. Two seemed to provide some worthwhile guidance for life.
Ships don’t sink because of the water all around them. They sink because of the water that gets inside them. Don’t let the negative that may be all round you get inside you. (Unknown)
Don’t let people pull you into their storms. Pull them into your peace. (Unknown)
The allusion to storms in the second quotes brought to mind all of the personal turmoil and divisiveness that seems to be all around us these days and it fit nicely with the ship analogy in the first quote. We are like ships in the sea of humanity that is all around us. We cannot let the water of hate or prejudice or bitterness get into our heads (into our ship) or we will sink along with those who are fermenting those feelings.
In fact, as Christians, we have an obligation to try to share the peace that we have received from Jesus with those who are tossing in the storms around us. That does not mean jumping up on a soapbox and preaching at them; rather, it means that through our empathy and actions we demonstrate a better alternative, an optimistic alternative, to the pessimistic point of view that may be in control of their life.
If, like Anne Frank, you start out with the point of view that people are basically good; then it is worth making the effort to find and bring out that good, rather than just writing them off and a bad egg. It may take a great deal of understanding and patience to cut through the hurt, anger and cynicism that you will encounter, but buried deep within them somewhere is the good that Anne Frank saw in all people. An interesting response that you may also encounter is surprise from them that someone (anyone) cares about them. It is that feeling of being isolated that drives many people to anti-social behavior and a few all the way to suicide.
So go forth today, not avoiding people who are angry or negative, but with the mission to try to pull them into your peace. If nothing else, smile and say hello to those that you meet. You may be the only one that they encounter today who does not try to avoid them. You will probably be the only area of tranquility that they encounter today in their otherwise stormy lives. If the opportunity presents itself, take the next step and introduce yourself. Each little effort provides a calming effect on the storms that may be surrounding that person. Share your point of view.
Pull them into your peace.