Love Them Anyway

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered, love them anyway
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives, do good anyway
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies, succeed anyway
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow, do good anyway
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, be honest and frank anyway
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight, build anyway 
People really need help but may attack you if you help them, help anyway
Give the world the best you have And you’ll get kicked in the teeth, give the world the best you’ve got anyway

As the story goes, Mother Theresa had these words on a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, a children’s home in Calcutta. This was authored by Kent Keith when he was a sophomore at Harvard as part of a student leadership book. The Paradoxical Commandments, as they are titled, are a clarion call to action in the face of challenge. I think they are more timely now for our world than ever.

Every person I encounter these days finds life today to be challenging in one way or another. I would offer that in my experience at the core of our individual and collective challenge is the opening line of The Paradoxical Commandments, “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.” More specifically, it appears that we experience “the other” in the world to be more difficult than ever. Their worldview is not only completely different than ours, but it almost feels as if they are living in a completely different world than the one we live in. The inevitable result of such an encounter is to perceive “the other” as unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. 

The title says it all. The Paradox is in the midst of experiencing someone so challenging, we choose to not diminish, denigrate or despise, but rather to “love them anyway.” The call, regardless of how challenging we find the world, is to live into the fullness of who we are called to be. For when we allow how we experience others to change how we are called to live, then we quickly lose sight of ourselves. However when we love, do good, tell the truth, build up, help and give our best, then we know regardless of the challenges that come our way, we choose to live into the fullness of who we were created to be.

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