At NSC we try to bring a variety of voices to the table of reckoning. One voice that has been amazingly helpful is the work of Brene Brown – who is amazing. We could do far worse than reading every word she has written and watching all her Youtube videos like any decent rabid fan would do.
She’s the one that introduced the language that we are all doing the best we can. It helped that she fought against this concept tooth and nail herself in order to accept its premise and mostly true. We certainly resisted the concept.
But after wearing this slogan for a while, most of us agree with her. We are all doing the best we can – and sometimes it isn’t very good.
One of the things I like about this reminder is what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that someone’s best even when it is awful needs to be tolerated. If we’re in a relationship that includes someone’s “best” as being abusive, ugly and inappropriate OUR BEST might include having the courage to walk away from the relationship.
Her phrase fits nicely with another slogan: when we know better we do better.
Understanding that people are doing the best they can is an invitation to find our empathy and compassion NOT a directive to tolerate unacceptable relationship practices.
It also doesn’t suggest that the best we can do today is our highest achievement in “bestness.” Surely our pursuit of inspired vision and following God compels us to pay attention and learn new ways of being better more decent human beings.
How can we continue to remind ourselves of the “both/and” of compassion paired with the commitment to continual transformation?