Human Frailty

I had an epiphany this morning as I grumpily drove to work: My biggest problem in life is that I’m an optimist.

Wait, WHAT???

Anyone who knows me knows that I am anything but Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows! Not that I behave like an incorrigible pessimist – I try to be positive, but I’m not the “peppy” type. Simply put, I have high standards for myself and I hold others to the same standards. I give my best and I expect others to do the same. In this sense, I am an optimist. But this is a sure track to rampant disappointment.

Like Tracy Lord in “The Philadelphia Story,” I have little or no regard for human frailty. This is not to say that I am incapable of feeling empathy or understanding another’s viewpoint or position; often, I simply argue that if I must follow a certain rule or standard, there’s no reason why someone else shouldn’t. Perhaps it’s a case of the Golden Rule gone wrong. You know: “All things, therefore, that ​you want men to do to ​you, ​you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) I do my part and naively expect the same treatment in return.

Time to wake up to the cold, hard facts. While there may be some people out there who appreciate my efforts to treat them as I would like to be treated, the majority do not really care. I continue to hold myself to higher standards and at best am disappointed – at worst, crushed – by the failure of others to reciprocate. So what should I do?? Stoop to the level of those who hurt me, or take the high road – that is, hold myself to higher standards while accepting the fact that many people I encounter will not hold to those standards?? It would appear that the high road, while more difficult initially, will be easier on my peace of mind in the long run. And maybe, just maybe, it will eventually make me a better person.

“You’ll never be a first class human being or a first class woman until you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty.” – C. K. Dexter Haven, The Philadelphia Story