Doing the Best They Can

by Eric Chaet

Everyone is doing the best he or she can
pursuing happiness
even Sulla, Nero, Timur, Pizarro, Stalin, Hitler, Mao
every cow, streptococcus, bigot, bully, psychopath
every teasing girl, puffed-up boy or man
tyrannical bureaucrat, deluded cop or warrior
conceited teacher, hired thug
adolescent in tantrum mode, arrogant heir
self-righteous priest or preacher
or skeptic, scientist, economist
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
& everyone in every position
who behaves in that political way—
it’s the best they know how to do.

This was much clearer to me
before I ran into so much opposition & indifference
to my attempts to make my contribution
& get back what I needed in return:
bad strategy to get bogged down in disabling resentment.

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.

To be deluded so is a disadvantage
like a drowning swimmer pulling down whoever’d help—
I’ve been needy & deluded so myself—
selecting among facts to put together
a so-called realism that relieved my recurrent anguish.

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—
to know who they’ve been so far, & their current role
strength, weakness, pride, shame, courage, cowardice
skills, helplessness, clout, a tool or joke
friends, isolation, assistants, bosses
rivals, opponents, parasites
without or well-sheltered, indebted, broke, or funded.

Almost everyone who dares the realization—
it’s such a daunting shock—
joins those who have oppressed them
& will continue to require self-abnegation
unless they find a way that’s theirs & no one else’s.

To remember that everyone is doing the best he or she 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):
to know that it’s so is one of the kinds of freedom
& freedom is one of the kinds of joy, & of power.

///

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An earlier version posted @ Beyond the Pale (Ireland & France).
Revised July 6, 2017.

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normal madness series
effectiveness series.

One Response to “Doing the Best They Can”

  1. William Rosser Says:

    I really like this. It seems a Buddhist concept that everyone, saint or sinner, is doing the best they can. It reminds me that one’s perspective becomes one’s reality. To transform your perspective to a more compassionate one, transforms your actions, and these actions create the good karma that changes the world forever for better.

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