Tag Archives: love

Trading Anger for Love

In December I posted a quote from Pancho Ramos Stierle and discussed the power of the label he used. Today I’ll offer the full quote.

Pancho is an extraordinary individual who seeks to express his political views through peaceful demonstrations during which he sits in silent meditation. At one such meditation demonstration which followed a nine-day fast he was made an example of by policemen who, under orders from their captain, slammed Pancho into the ground, put a knee on his neck, twisted his arms behind his back, and handcuffed him.

Amid shouts of outrage from fellow protesters Pancho said to the officer in front of him,

Brother, I forgive you. I am not doing this for me. I am not doing this for you. I am doing it for your children and the children of your children.

Pancho then asked the officer what his first name was and if he liked Mexican food and then offered this,

I know this place in San Francisco that has the best carnitas and fajitas and quesadillas, and I tell you what, when I get done with this and you get done with this, I’d like to break my fast with you. What do you say?

This officer, so filled with anger and aggression moments earlier, proceeded to, without another spoken word, loosen Pancho’s handcuffs and those of all the other protesters who had also been handcuffed at that point.

It is easy to love people in lovable moments. One of the greatest challenges of humanity is loving people when the automatic response is anger and outrage.

The Power of Love

Love is a powerful force. It will drive you to soar and to crash, to elation and to despair, to push forward and to pull back.

It drove Joannie Rochette, the Canadian figure skater whose mother suddenly and unexpectedly died days before the Olympics, to compete to honor her mother and walk away with a bronze medal. It drove Edwin van Calker, the driver of the Dutch 4-man bobsled team, to withdraw from the Olympics, enraging his coach and dashing the Olympic hopes of his teammates.

Joannie is being hailed as a hero, a triumphant athlete who stood tall under tremendous adversity. Edwin is being branded a goat, a coward who has disappointed a nation.

This is unfair. Edwin watched the Georgian luger perish and saw 30 other competitors crash on that same track. He listened to commentators repeatedly expressing the view that this particular track was dangerous. He thought about himself, his wife, his kids, and he decided the competition wasn’t worth the risk.

Have you ever been in a near death experience? Have you ever witnessed a fatal accident?

Many winter sports have inherent dangers. The athletes who compete exhibit bravery every time they take to the snow or ice. Van Calker’s decision took a different kind of bravery.

So who is the real hero?

In their own ways, they are each heroic, for different reasons and for different people. Rochette is a hero to her family and her nation for her performance and achievement under adversity. Van Calker is a hero to his family for coming home to them safe and sound.

Canadians will honor Rochette everywhere she goes. That’s easy for them. How will the Dutch respond to van Calker? Will they lift him up? Will they honor him? Those who do are also heroes.

BTW, regarding yesterday’s post, the Leopard can stand tall, having beaten skiers from such snow producing countries as Sweden, Canada, USA, Switzerland, Russia, Norway, Italy, Finland, and Austria. Congratulations!

Happy Valentine’s Day

On the acknowledgements page of the first draft of my first book I wrote that words could not describe my love for my wife. My editor slashed that with a thick red marker and told me, “Yes they can. You just don’t know how to use them properly.”

She was right of course.

Yeats, Dickinson, Shakespeare, Frost. They had used words to describe a love that deep.

So in my next draft I tried to tell what I thought was the truth. I wrote that I didn’t know the words to describe my love for my wife. Again. Red marker. She said, “You’re an author. Do better.”

So here’s what I wrote.

Above all, to my wife Beatrice, thank you for your laughter and your spirit. Your unwavering support has lifted me up and inspired me through every draft of this book and everything I do in life.

No red marker.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. Good luck finding the words you need today.

BONUS: I think there’s a really important lesson here. Twice I thought I delivered my best work to my editor. Twice I thought that work was good. Twice my editor told me to do better. Who can push you further? Who delivers honest feedback to you? Cherish that person. Thank them for the feedback they provide. And push yourself to do better.

The Day After

A few months ago I wrote a post about a heroic response after tragedy. Today and in the days to come we will need many heroic responses after what has happened in Haiti. There are many ways to help, but perhaps the easiest is to text “haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross’s International Response Fund.

Please consider donating today. The weeks and months ahead will require a massive effort to first get out of danger and then try to return to some kind of life as usual.

All for Love

I got to talking with the guy sitting next to me on the plane this week. We discussed where we live and I told him I never imagined I would live on Long Island (or as my friend Aaron likes to call it, “The 516”). “Then again,” I said, “we all do crazy things for love.”

Sometimes we love other people and do crazy things for them. Sometimes we love our work or our hobbies. In a way I think this is one of the best determinants of sanity. If you are doing something that seems ridiculous to someone else, ask yourself why. If the answer is that you are doing it because of love, you are probably pretty sane. If you are doing it for something you don’t care about or, worse yet, hate, it’s probably time to reexamine your priorities.