FEATHERS IN THE WIND
There is a 19th century folktale about a man who went about town slandering the town's wise man. One day, he went to the wise man's home and asked for forgiveness. The wise man, realizing that this man had not internalized the gravity of his transgressions, told him that he would forgive him on one condition: that he go home, take a feather pillow from his house, cut it up, and scatter the feathers to the wind. After he had done so, he should then return to the wise man's house.
Though puzzled by this strange request, the man was happy to be let off with so easy a penance. He quickly cut up the pillow, scattered the feathers, and returned to the house.
"Am I now forgiven?" he asked.
"Just one more thing," the wise man said. "Go now and gather up all the feathers."
"But that's impossible. The wind has already scattered them."
"Precisely," he answered. "And though you may truly wish to correct the evil you have done, it is as impossible to repair the damage done by your words as it is to recover the feathers. Your words are out there in the marketplace, spreading hate, even as we speak."
How interesting it is that we, as human beings, are so quick to believe the bad that others say about someone; and so ready to assume the worst regarding another's actions. Why is it that oft times we don't look to our own words and actions but are so ready to point at another?. We've all been told that "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me." We also know that is totally untrue. While a body will typically recover from a physical injury, the harm caused by direct insults can sometimes last a lifetime, and tear the self-esteem right out of a person.
On the other hand, kind, encouraging words can build a person's self-esteem, help him or her to grow and give them the impetus they need to do great, significant things with their lives. The choice regarding how we speak about or to someone is ours.
I am not the perfect mother by any stretch, but if I can point out one thing I have done right, it's to teach my children to be kind. All of them stick up for the underdog, all of them befriend the one that is lonely, all of them are completely non-judgemental. I wish I could say the same of their mother. I have taught by my words, but not always by my example. I am proud of them for this quality they have all nurtured so well.
I'm not much of a "New Year's Resolution" type of gal, but this principle of kindness and watching what I say is at the top of my list this year. Even ahead of losing weight. Hopefully I'll be more successful at both.
Just some thoughts I had.