August 21

  

Today's Quotation:
The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts:  to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, "I was wrong."

Sydney J. Harris

Today's Meditation:

One of the most impressive things that I witness is when people who have nothing to gain from a situation do their best to include people who are more or less on the "fringes"--people who may be extremely shy or who may not have such great social skills.  On one of our trips to Spain we had two students one year who were great at this-- they did their best to include everyone in anything that the group did as a whole.  They weren't at all exclusionary, and they never made the people they were asking to go along feel as if they were being done a favor.  They simply and sincerely invited them along to do whatever the group was doing.  It was great to watch.

It's just one of the things that Sydney's talking about here, but how important it is!  Their acts of kindness and caring made the entire six-week trip much more enjoyable for several students who might otherwise have felt excluded.  And I've been on other trips during which the students did their best to exclude anyone whom they didn't like, and it was awful to watch.

These acts may be difficult, but what a great difference they may make in our lives and in the lives of others.  Returning hate for hate is easy, and it tends to perpetuate the hate.  Returning love for hate can start the process of stopping the hate in its tracks, even if it doesn't stop it immediately.

Saying "I was wrong" is way up there with saying "I'm sorry."  It acknowledges the fact that we're not perfect, and that we do make mistakes.  It acknowledges our humanity while demonstrating our willingness to entertain the notion that we don't always have to be right.  Not having to be right all the time takes a great deal of pressure off of us, too, and makes life much easier to deal with.

Of course, none of these things should be done with a condescending or arrogant attitude, or they're no longer effective or sincere.  Sincerity is the key here, along with humility, or not needing to be recognized for our acts.  If we can do these things sincerely and modestly, then our lives will be much easier, and we'll be contributing actively to the common good.

Questions to ponder:

1.  In what ways might we return love for hate on a daily basis?

2.  When was the last time you tried to include someone who was excluded?

3.  Why can it be so hard for us to say "I was wrong"?

For further thought:

The longer you live the more you realize that forgiveness, consideration, and kindness are three of the great secrets of life.

unattributed

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