“Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.” ~ Rumi
“Some cause happiness wherever they go.” ~ Oscar Wilde
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou
There are some people who light up a room when they come into it, who make everyone feel good, and when you’re with them they make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. My father was one of those people. That was remarkable because he wasn’t the loud extrovert who makes a noisy entrance. He was a humble introvert, but when he spoke people listened, and when people spoke he listened with eloquence. He honored everyone he encountered. What this taught me was that if you are interested in people, you can make a big difference in their lives, and in your own life too.
From my father I learned to be empathetic, to listen and try to see past the outer behaviors and attitudes we all protect ourselves with; the faces we present to the world. These tools helped me as I went out into the world. I encountered people at school, college and work who didn’t know how to use empathy as a tool. Having to associate with them was extremely uncomfortable and confusing. I was surprised that not everyone had learned those skills from their parents. However, as I thought about how different I was from others, eventually, a kernel of an idea began to grow. Maybe everyone comes into this world with a hidden purpose that contributes to whatever it is that is driving all of humanity toward some eventual bright future.
It was at this point that I read the book, Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch. In the book Neale asks God why we had to have a person like Hitler? What was the purpose of having a person who was so filled with fear and hatred that millions of people were killed as a result of his drive for power? Why hadn’t He stepped in to protect us? God’s answer made so much sense to me. Humans have free will. People like Hitler show us the contrast between love and hatred. And when we’re confronted with those people, we have an opportunity to choose whether to follow them, or follow the path of love as set out by people like Jesus, or Buddha or other great teachers. When a Hitler comes into so much power, the only solution, if we choose love, is to stand up to them. In other words, God said World War II was necessary to affirm that we, as a human collective wanted to live by love rather than hatred. That made so much sense to me. Situations like that force us to come together to use our free will and choose what kind of society we want to live in. It is, of course, a slow process. More opportunities to choose, like the seminal moment in which we find ourselves right now, will present themselves. Each individual who chooses to honor others, rather than to grab for power, pushes us toward growth. The process isn’t easy. It’s messy and uncomfortable, but necessary.
We like to think that our lives don’t matter but they do. My dad was a humble man who didn’t aspire to be a world leader, but I felt good when I was around him. He made the people he associated with feel good about themselves. He helped us all discover talents we didn’t know we had, he honored us in ways not many other people did. I’m so grateful that he was my father because as I’ve tried to emulate him, I know that others who knew him are doing the same. The ripples of his influence continue out into the world. He wouldn’t want any more of a tribute than that. And I’m grateful for what I learned from him so I can make my own contributions for love. Thanks, Dad.
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Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016