Doing the Best They Can

by Eric Chaet

Everyone, always, is doing the best he or she can
pursuing happiness
even Nero, Timur, Pizarro, Stalin, Hitler, Mao—
every cow, streptococcus, virus
bigot, bully, psychopath
every teasing girl, puffed-up boy or man
tyrannical bureaucrat, deluded cop or warrior
conceited teacher, hired thug
politicians who give you to believe
what they have no intention of trying to deliver
unless at no great cost to their careers
or whose intentions count for nothing
because of lack of discipline & integrity
& ignorance & undeveloped intellect—
it’s the best they know how to do.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful
if someone fully & stably wise could persuade everyone
that the karmic return on investment
on righteous & loving, kind behavior & deeds
would enrich them beyond their abilities to imagine?—
which is so—
but they don’t believe they need to listen
certain they already know—
which is false.

Everyone is doing the best she or he can—
mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, son—
with or without faith, irony, foresight
adjusting to implacable facts
about what their contemporaries require of them, or else
or refusing to know—
sensing it would require of them
efforts far beyond what would be fair
& would surely grind who they’ve been so far to dust.

Realization is such a daunting shock—
that we are like those who have oppressed us—
unless we find a way that’s ours & no one else’s.

To remember that everyone is doing the best they can
is such an advantage
tho only an advantage
in the midst of the war for everything
those unaware of their best interests are waging
(& you’re not allowed to opt out):
it is one of the kinds of freedom
& freedom is one of the kinds of joy, & of power.

///

///

normal madness series
effectiveness series.

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