'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.
I believe in tough love. - Sean Hannity
Kindness begets kindness. - Greek Proverb
Love is the poetry of the senses. - Honore de Balzac
Manners are love in a cool climate. - Quentin Crisp
We are easily duped by those we love. - Moliere
I love the smell of rain and growing things. - Serina Hernandez
I have much more faith in a kind man than I do in mankind. - Unknown
Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising. - Milton Hershey
They have a kind of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby thing going on. - Christopher Walken
I'm not addicted to coke, I just love the way it smells. - Richard Pryor
What the world really needs is more love and less paper work. - Pearl Bailey
When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain. - Mark Twain
How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time. - Morgan Freeman
It is possible to be in love with you just because of who you are. - Maggie Stiefvater
Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy. - Soren Kierkegaard
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. - Douglas Adams
Be to their virtue very kind;
be to their faults a little blind. - Matthew Prior
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. - Mother Teresa
One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry. - Oscar Wilde
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. - Peter Ustinov
He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. - St. Basil of Caesarea
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
A two-year old is kind of like a blender, but you don't have any top for it. - Jerry Seinfeld
A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others. - Frank Morgan
Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. - Bertrand Russell
Love melts the rigor which the rocks have bred; a flint will break upon a feather bed. - John Cleveland
Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. - Benjamin Franklin
I still believe that love is all you need. I don't know a better message than that. - Paul McCartney
Success is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration, and 2 percent attention to detail. - Phil
It is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. - Agatha Christie
I'd kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs. - Cameron Diaz
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars. - Og Mandino
I cannot work; I cannot speak; I cannot live or love as I should, unless God's wisdom lights my path. - David Jeremiah
Baloney is the unvarnished lie laid on so thick you hate it. Blarney is flattery laid on so thin you love it. - Fulton J Sheen
God made woman beautiful and foolish; beautiful, that man might love her; and foolish, that she might love him. - Tara Reid
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships. The quality of your business is no different. - Harvey Mackay
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. - Marianne Williamson
It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket, or a holding pattern over Philadelphia. - Judith Viorst
Charity may be a very short word, but with its tremendous meaning of pure love, it sums up man's entire relation to God and to his neighbor. - Aelred of Rievaulx