'Love your neighbor as yourself' - Mark 12:31
In 2018 the writer George Saunders gave a Convocation Speech on the subject of kindness to the graduates of Syracuse University. In the speech, he recalls some of the bigger mistakes and mishaps of his life, and notes that despite their negative consequences, he regrets none of them. Instead, it is a small moment from his youth, a foible of omission rather than commission, that still niggles at him:
"In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be 'Ellen.' Ellen was small, shy. She wore these blue cat's-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.
So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased ("Your hair taste good?" - that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she'd look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she'd drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: "How was your day, sweetie?" and she'd say, "Oh, fine." And her mother would say, "Making any friends?" and she'd go, "Sure, lots."
Sometimes I'd see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.
And then - they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing. One day she was there, next day she wasn't. End of story.
Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still. It bothers me. So here's something I know to be true, although it's a little corny, and I don't quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded... Sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly."
When I ask myself, 'What good shall I do this day?' this story will never be far from my mind. I found myself looking back over some of the times of my life when I saw hurting or rejected people and I recognized the response of George Saunders as also my response: sensible, reserved, mild.
Make a sincere decision with your life so that you will not miss the opportunities to love your neighbor as yourself, and not allow failures of kindness to be a part of you. This is one of the key ways you can honor God with all of your life.
Even the gods love jokes. - Plato
May love be what you remember most. - Darcie Sims
In the race for love, I was scratched. - Joan Davis
Love in its essence is spiritual fire. - Emanuel Swedenborg
Ultimately, blind faith is the only kind. - Mason Cooley
Shift from judgment to compassion to love. - Thomas Leonard
Love is not merely blind but mentally afflicted. - Alice Thomas Ellis
You can't blame gravity for falling in love. - Albert Einstein
Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face. - George Eliot
He's the kind of man who picks his friends - to pieces. - Mae West
Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up. - Jesse Jackson
Whatever you do, stamp out abuses, and love those who love you. - Voltaire
You have to become the kind of person who deserves the life you want. - Brianna Wiest
Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness. - Confucius
Love puts the fun in together, the sad in apart, and the joy in a heart. - Unknown
No one but a woman in love ever sees the maximum of men's greatness. - Anais Nin
For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. - Carl Sagan
The most dangerous kind of person... is one who is afraid of his own shadow. - Philip K. Dick
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything. - Bill Keane
Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us. - Golda Meir
A two-year old is kind of like a blender, but you don't have any top for it. - Jerry Seinfeld
Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young. - Dorothy Canfield Fisher
All I want is peace, love, understanding, and a chocolate bar bigger than my head. - Unknown
Some people are chocolate and sweets people. I love French fried. That and caviar. - Cameron Diaz
For me, there's a kind of absolute power to saying the opposite of what you feel. - Sarah Silverman
I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by loving. - Anais Nin
Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective, and valuable than words. - Francois Rabelais
Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready, here comes life. - Unknown
Earth's the right place for love: I don’t know where it's likely to go better. - Robert Frost
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines. - Charles Kuralt
Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely. - Hawkeye
Love is an ideal thing, marriage is a real thing. A confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished. - Johann Wolfgang Goethe
In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us. - Flora Edwards
But here's what I've learned in this war, in this country, in this city: to love the miracle of having been born. - Oriana Fallaci
I was not in the band, because I suffer from the kind of tone deafness that is generally associated with actual deafness. - John Green
Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. - C S Lewis
I love lean meats like chicken, turkey. I'm obsessed with sushi and fish in general. I eat a lot of veggies and hummus. - Shawn Johnson
I not only knew Houdini, but we had a very lovely relationship. I really though we had something going, and then the son of a gun disappeared. - Betty White
If you never want to see a man again, just tell him, "I love you. I want to marry you. I want to have children." They leave skid marks. - Rita Rudner
One advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again. - Judith Viorst