The importance of finding the best in others

How we think of each other is the greatest difference between Slovakia and Canada.

This is not to say that Róbert Kaliňák is an underappreciated philanthrope.This is not to say that Róbert Kaliňák is an underappreciated philanthrope. (Source: SITA)

On a rainy January 2, I went with my wife to Victoria, BC, to visit the grave of her father, who died on that day four years ago. We took with us two cans of beer and a bottle of whisky, some of which we poured on his headstone before settling on a bench nearby to toast his memory.

He had been an Irishman (hence the Guinness and Jameson) and a metallurgist, fond of a drink and a conversation. He died after a long illness, and with a few regrets that were not related to his Parkinson’s. “Do your best to think good of others,” he told his daughter.

Compared to his more conventional advice (don’t smoke; take care of your mother), it was a piece of hard candy. What is the point, after all, of thinking good of unrepentantly evil men? Doesn’t it just leave us more vulnerable to being deceived? And why should we think good of the world, given that the world doesn’t often give us the same benefit of the doubt?

And yet, days later, that advice is still on my mind. Could the answer be simply that looking for the best in others makes us happier ourselves?

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