'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.
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I love you more than donuts. - Unknown
Love is a friendship set to music. - Joseph Campbell
Coffee and love taste best when hot. - German Proverb
Love one another as I have loved you. - Jesus Christ
Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. - William Thackeray
Compromises are for relationships, not wine. - Robert S Caywood
Mr. President, I love you, but you're wrong. - Paul Harvey
An epic is the easiest kind of picture to make badly. - Charlton Heston
Love: one game never postponed on account of darkness. - Unknown
He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals. - Benjamin Franklin
Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face. - George Eliot
I've never been in love. I've always been a lawyer. - Unknown
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Distant relatives are the best kind, and the further the better. - Frank McKinney
Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another. - George Eliot
Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. - Voltaire
Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of man you are. - Thomas Carlyle
What good is money if it can't inspire terror in your fellow man? - Homer Simpson
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People love me. And you know what, I have been very successful. Everybody loves me. - Donald Trump
It's no trick loving somebody at their best. Love is loving them at their worst. - Tom Stoppard
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Love and respect are the most important aspects of parenting, and of all relationships. - Jodie Foster
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. - Buddha
It's better to fall from a tree and break your back than to fall in love and break your heart. - African Proverb
The opposite of love isn't hate - it's indifference. And if you hate me, that means you still care. - Marcia Cross
Love without hope will not survive. Love without faith changes nothing. Love gives power to hope and faith. - Toba Beta
If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they're yours; if they don't, they never were. - Richard Bach
Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely. - Hawkeye
There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time. - Napoleon Bonaparte
Work like you don't need the money, dance like no one is watching, and love like you've never been hurt. - Mark Twain
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. - Maya Angelou
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Commerce: A kind of transaction in which A plunders from B the goods of C, and for compensation B picks the pocket of D of money belonging to E. - Ambrose Bierce
You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. - Epicurus