When I was recently asked what my motto is, I first thought of the sentence that serves as title of this post. I realize that everyone is not always doing the best he or she can. When I reflect on my own life, I realize that there were times when I intentionally did not do my best or when I intentional did something that was wrong. I assume that I am like most people and that most of the time, actually almost all the time, I was doing the best I could even if it wasn’t very good or very much. “The best I can do” is not an absolute. It is the best I can muster under the prevailing circumstances. Sometimes I am limited physically or financially or emotionally. Sometimes my freedom is limited and in truth it varies from situation to situation.
But the most accurate assumption about me is that I am doing my best even though there may be times when I don’t and even though that “best” will vary. To assume that I am not doing the best I can would be a mistake. It would be an even greater mistake to assume that because I may have not done my best in some situations I am a person who doesn’t do my best.
I try to take the same stance toward others. Even in the face of what is destructive behavior, I firmly believe that everyone is doing the best they can. It is just that some people can’t bring much to the table in a particular situation. I am realistic enough to recognize that and to be appropriately prudent. Yet knowing my own sometimes lack of freedom or understanding, I can appreciate the plight of another human being who in particular circumstances falls well short of good or appropriate behavior.
I suppose I run the risk of being taken advantage of or being disappointed by the few people in so few situations who fail to do their best. But there is a great chance that my positive assumptions are confirmed. I prefer to live my life out of those positive assumptions rather than focusing on the negative and disappointing. Or at least I try to but then I am doing the best I can which sometimes is not enough.