A comment made by another blogger (emjayandthem.wordpress.com – great blog!) reminded me of this poem by Edwin Markham, a not-so-well-known poet of the early 1900s:
He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.
I first read that poem 40-some years ago and have remembered it for as many years. The words definitely had an impact on me. It is a reminder that no matter how poorly I am treated, I do not need to respond in the same way. Love will always win out; it’s the larger circle.
We live in a time where civility seems greatly diminished. There is so much anger and hatred toward whole groups of people….because of their skin color, because of their religion, because of their country of origin, because of their language, because of . . . If we don’t have a reason, we create one. We shut each other out rather than drawing each other in. In the process, we lose. We lose our humanity; we lose our selves; we lose our peace . . . we lose our possibilities.
Markham also wrote this:
There is a destiny that makes us brothers:
None goes his way alone:
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back onto our own.
“A Creed”, stanza 1, reported in Poems of Edwin Markham (1950), page 18.
I don’t believe in some cosmic karma, but I do believe that what “we send into the lives of others” does have consequences in our own lives. We are all tied together whether we like it or not. We get to choose how we will treat each other. We get to choose how we respond when someone treats us poorly.
The following is attributed to Mother Teresa (with similarities to The Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Keith M. Kent; see http://prayerfoundation.org/mother_teresa_do_it_anyway.htm )
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
We get to choose…we get to do it anyway…we get to draw a great big circle to draw people in. Let’s start doing it right now!