We want life to run like a machine. We want it to go smoothly where all the well-oiled clockwork turns just as it should.
When I was a child I used to think that if everyone just lived by strong moral principles in the way I was taught, there would be no pain, no hurt. And there is some logic behind that: if we all looked out for one another, were thoughtful and kind, there would be less hurt.
But life is messy. We are not robots. We are not gears in a machine. No matter how much we want all the pieces in life to run smoothly, life experiences will tear off the teeth of our gears and created unexpected grooves.
Even if everyone lived by the same code and did the right thing at all times, chaos would appear and muck up the works, just like a wrench dropped in a machine. Can we really expect people to live to a perfect, unwavering moral standard and social correctness after a spouse has died? Or someone lost a limb in a car wreck? Or someone that found out the chemicals their company was using, unbeknownst even to the company, gave them cancer? There is bound to be hurt and doubt and anger that people have to work through.
But more than that, not everyone lives up to the same code. Some people were abused and mistreated. And even those that were treated well live by different codes. Simple miscommunication can cause distrust and misunderstanding. Show the sole of your foot in certain cultures and you have just insulted them. Give the okay sign in other cultures and it’s as if you showed them the middle finger.
So, we can’t expect life to be like a machine. We can’t just say “live like I do, live by my rules, and life will be wonderful.” Instead, we need to forgo our indignation when people don’t play by the rules and love them anyway. When they lash out, remember it’s because you’ve hit a spot that was most likely shorn off from pain and neglect. Appreciating them, having compassion, and loving them, can fill the gaps that life has eroded away. As Jesus said “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you.”
The more we fight people that fight us, the more we demand our rights to people that don’t respect them, we are simply saying “Life should work my way! I demand it!” and the more life will continue to go on creaking and clacking without any regard for our demands. We should be respected and we should surround ourselves with those that respect us. Still, everyone deserves that, even those broken because they never received respect. Shouldn’t we find a reserve of respect to share?