Mister Rogers Mon, Feb 04, 2019
There's a quote that I heard a few years ago from writer Mary Lou Kownacki that quickly became my favorite life mantra as soon as I heard it: "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story."
It's really hard to love people who aren't lovable. Whether that's a friend, a family member, someone who cuts you off in traffic, a tough guest service call or email, a Twitter troll, or a complete stranger you read about in a news article.
In the foreword to Mister Rogers' 2003 book, Important Things to Remember, his wife talked about how this quote was one of his favorites. She said, "A quote he loved especially - and carried around with him - was from Mary Lou Kownacki: 'There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story.' There were many times I wanted to be angry at someone and Fred would say, 'But I wonder what was going on in that person's day.' His capacity for understanding always amazed me."
I believe that our character is most tested - and thus, most developed and molded - when we choose to love our fellow human beings when it's hardest to do so. Everyone has a story, a past with baggage and scars, raw spots that can be made fresh again with a small inadvertent poke.
Everyone has a past and deeply-rooted reasons why they are the way they are, why they react certain ways, and how they perceive certain situations. Unless they're personally close to you, odds are you won't ever get to know that person's story - but imagine if you could. There would surely be stories of hurt, betrayal, or mistrust that would allow you to make sense of the person you're seeing in front of you.
It's easy to be put off by someone's actions on the surface, but remembering that there are reasons behind the "why" (whether we know them or not) will make the whole world a better place and make your day far better than it would've been if you just assumed the worst of someone.