The power of love
Today’s post is inspired by a comment left by Virginia Hamilton to a post that was published in this place back on 27th September, 2009. The post was called Sticks and stones. This is a flavour of the post.
I make no apologies for today’s post being more emotional and sentimental.
The phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me‘ is well known throughout the English-speaking world and surprisingly goes back some way. A quick web search found that in the The Christian Recorder of March 1862, there was this comment:
Remember the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me’. True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.
So if in 1862 the saying was referred to as an ‘old adage’ then it clearly pre-dated 1862 by some degree.
A few days ago, Dusty M., here in Payson, AZ, sent me a short YouTube video called The Power of Words. I’m as vulnerable as the next guy to needing being reminded about what’s important in this funny old world. Then I started mulling over the tendency for all of us to be sucked into a well of doom and gloom. Take my posts on Learning from Dogs over the last couple of days, as an example.
There is no question that the world in which we all live is going through some extremely challenging times but anger and negativity is not going to be the answer. As that old reference spelt out so clearly, “True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.”
So first watch the video,
then let me close by reminding us all that courage is yet something else we can learn from dogs.
Then this is the comment from Virginia left to that post just a few days ago:
Our sermon today was about sticks and stones which is perfect timing because my sixth graders are throwing words at each other and it is hurting. So I looked up the phrase and found you. We were shown the video in a faculty meeting and since you tie into dogs I was hoping to find “the answer.” When you look at the website you’ll see out community project where I have twenty schools training in three shelters. One would think that because these kids are so loving to the animals that they could pass that kindness to each other. Any words of wisdom? Also check this video out. Thank you, Virginia
Virginia is a gifted teacher in Indialantic, FL. She uses her love of animals to teach students about giving back and community service. Her students volunteer at animal shelters and help train dogs so they are more easily adoptable. By doing this they get outside of the classroom and learn important life skills.
My reply to Virginia was: “Virginia, I took a break from the writing and saw your comment to this post and was blown away to use the vernacular! Thank you so much. Don’t know about me offering words of wisdom but I am going to publish a new post based entirely around your comment, and the question. Before the end of the week! Thank you so much for dropping by.”
To that end, I am going to do nothing more than quote a chunk from a forthcoming chapter of my book: Learning from Dogs. The chapter is the first in Part Five: Dog qualities we have to learn. What follows is the last 400 words of that chapter.
Let’s turn to the world of novels. Some book authors make a distinction between unconditional love and conditional love. In the sense that conditional love is love that is earned through conscious or unconscious conditions being met by the lover. Whereas in unconditional love, love is given to the loved one no matter what. Loving is primary: an acting of feelings irrespective of will.
There’s another aspect of unconditional love that relates commonly between individuals and their dogs. That is that our love for a dog encompasses a desire for the dog to have the very best life in and around us humans. Take the example of acquiring a new puppy. The puppy is cute, playful, and the owner’s heart swells with love for this adorable new family member. Then the puppy urinates on the floor. One does not stop loving the puppy but recognises the need to modify the puppy’s behaviour through love and training than, otherwise, continue to experience behaviours that would be unacceptable in a particular situation.
Having explored the concept of love and how dogs offer us the beauty of unconditional love, how should we adopt a loving approach to the world, and why?
It’s the little things that count is a famous truism and one no better suited to the world of love. Little things that we can do in countless different ways throughout the day. Sharing a friendly word and a smile with a stranger, dropping a coin or two into a homeless person’s hands or, better still, a loaf of bread or a chocolate bar. Being courteous on the road, holding a door open for someone at your nearby store, showing patience in a potentially frustrating situation. Never forgetting that we have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion, be more attentive when a loved one is speaking with us, engineer periods of quiet contemplation, understand that the world will not come to an end if the television or ‘smartphone’ is turned off for a day. The list of loving actions is endless.
Because this world of ours so desperately needs a new start and that start must come from a loving attitude to each other, to the plants and animals, and to the blue planet that sustains us.
We need our hearts to open; open enough to tell our heads about the world of love.
Copyright 2014: Paul Handover
It would be lovely, Virginia, if this could be read out to your classes. Even better if young peoples’ thoughts, responses, and questions could be posted here as comments.
A very Happy Thanksgiving to all.