No. 657



Several years ago, I remember hearing the late Dr. Ken McFarland tell a story about this man who had an accordion and a pet monkey. The two of them would go around to various stores and other locations playing for whatever tips they could get from those who paused to listen to them. One day they were performing in an ol’ fashion general store (the kind that had everything). A customer walked over and said to this man playing the accordion, “Do you know your monkey’s tail is in the pickle jar?” He said, “No, but if you can hum a few bars, maybe I can pick it up.” Now, believe it or not, the simple phrase “pick it up” has more to do with our success or failure as a human being than any of us would ever dream.
The basis for this statement comes back to our earliest days as a child and the home or environment where we grew up. If we were reared in a good home and had parents who taught us character values, such as honesty, truth, respect for others and value of hard work, we are indeed blessed. It is these values that form the underpinnings of who we are as a person. While we can overcome, we cannot escape the impact of what we learned in those formative years, whether good or bad. What we all need to stop and realize is that it’s not just what we deliberately “teach” our children, but what they “pick up” by our attitudes, values and behavior. There are few areas of life more important than those that can be defined as love and hate.
For example, why do some people hate others because the color of their skin is different from their own, or they have a different national origin? I submit that it’s because of the attitudes they picked up as a child from those around them, especially in the home. No one comes right out and says, “You need to hate this person or that person because of the color of their skin.” No, it’s much more subtle than that. It’s the general conversation and the attitudes on the part of adults, and children just naturally pick it up. You may or may not agree with what I am saying, and skin color and national origin are only two examples, but I want to make a statement and then share some thoughts that can help each of us live a better, happier and more productive life.
Here is the statement: We need to love more and hate less. The questions then become: How can we do that and where do we start? Regardless of our upbringing, the place to start is to have a deep respect for every person, simply because they are another human being. This does not mean that we have to agree with them 100 percent of the time or any of the time. We are all different and have different values, customs and behavior, but we are still a part of the human race. As a Christian, my Bible tells me that I should love my enemies and pray for those who despitefully use me. Here is something a lot of people may not know. It is impossible to hate another person, or even stay mad at them for very long, when we are sincerely praying for them.
Our greatest enemy has never changed. His name is ignorance. We demonstrate this when we hate another person for whatever reason. We need to love people and use things, not use people and love things. When we truly love other people, it’s not just what we say but what we do that really counts. My wonderful wife does this better than any person I know. She constantly does for others, and most of the time I never hear about it, save for those times when others tell me. Please understand that when I make a statement like “We need to love more and hate less,” this is not to say that I do not understand there is tremendous evil in the world and we have to deal with it when it comes into our lives.
For the most part, the criminal element is made up of people who never experienced true love in the home when they were growing up. Let’s all keep that in mind as we face an uncertain future in our nation. The kind of nation we have in the years to come will, by and large, depend on the attitudes and values we teach our children. When directed toward the well-being and happiness of others, love is a wonderful thing. Since we generally get back what we first give to others, this means that we will be loved and happier in return. It’s the best way to live. For those in our society who miss the joy of loving other people, we should pray for them and be kind instead of acting in the same manner.
We can begin to demonstrate our love for others by showing them that we have a deep respect for them as a person. We can also get them involved in worthwhile projects that give them an opportunity to “give back,” as this brings tremendous satisfaction and happiness. And we can be there for them when they fall down or suffer a set back. To be sure, love conquers all.
These are just some thoughts to ponder that could make a real difference in your life.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)