This quote startled me –
“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”–Cardinal Richelieu.
At first I was appalled.
How could anyone look at only six lines and decide if the author was deserving of capital punishment?
Then it dawned on me.
People see what they want to see.
Others don’t know your motives.
You can do the most noble thing, or the hardest thing for the right reasons, and people will judge you.
Look at some of our greatest leaders, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.
Most consider them legends.
Some consider them Divine.
Yet vast amounts of people hate them, despise them, distrust them, and ultimately killed them.
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have helped countless people.
I remember a broke blues musician who came to me red faced and angry because he couldn’t pay his rent and might be evicted yet again. I helped him for the next decade.
He got out of debt. He tasted the good life.
But later, he changed his mind, turned on me, said he got almost nothing from my help (after 10 years of helping him), and wrote me off.
He wasn’t the only one.
I remember a former drug pusher who was dodging the IRS but wanting to change his life and make money online. I helped him for almost a decade, too.
Again, after he got all he wanted from me, he fabricated a bill saying I owed him for past services he did “as a friend.”
He went as far as to contact former associates of mine, email a database we shared, and try to destroy me.
“Don’t waste your time with explanations, people only hear what they want to hear.” – Paulo Coelho
Of course, there are also people who I have helped who still thank me publicly and privately.
I am grateful for them.
The point is, we can’t control others or their opinions.
We can only do the best we can and hope we make a difference.
They may misunderstand us.
They may misinterpret us.
We have to do what we believe, anyway.
Sometimes what we do will be hard, and no one will understand.
Sometimes what we do will appear wrong, and no one will support us.
Sometimes what we do will hurt, and no one will rush in to help.
We have to do what we think is right anyway.
P.T. Barnum said, “We cannot all see alike, but we can all do good.”
Even when no one understands.
Even when others judge you or your motives.
Even if some cardinal from the 1600s might read crime in your six lines.
After all, isn’t life worth living when you follow your own inner compass?
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