We’ve been writing a lot about anger lately and that’s because there is so much of it in our world. So many people are becoming cold, vindictive and even violent because of their anger. People are quick to let their anger control them, completely oblivious to their future. Is this what we should sow?
Anger is evil and toxic. We have all experienced this at some point in our life –we become angry and we let it fester and insidiously, before we even realize what has happened, that anger has taken over. Once anger takes root, a person becomes cold and often even cruel, and they morph into a bitter, unhappy person. Friends and family, worn down by the anger, drift away to a safe distance and the person who is consumed with anger and bitterness, slowly becomes isolated. After all, who wants to be around someone who is always angry, complaining and bitter?
The tale of the Teacher and her students is a great lesson for all of us to learn and remember:
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.
Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.
It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.
That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.
On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.
No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.
Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.
The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.
As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’
After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.
‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’
Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.
‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’
All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’
Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’
‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’
Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’
That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.
The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.
So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.
Remember, you reap what you sow. What you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.
The Moral of the Story
There are many morals to this story, but the salient one is that people are basically good and just trying to make it in this life, so we should be kind to everyone. We really do often reap what we sow and if we’re cruel, unkind, cold or hostile toward other people, we are hurting them, but in truth, we’re greatly hurting ourselves as well. Religion, race, sexual orientation and political beliefs are not things we should be getting so angry over — and yet, we are doing so in increasing levels of hostility. Every day, someone rage tweets about “those damn Democrats” or “those evil Republicans,” saying horrible things to other people while hiding behind a computer screen. Every day, someone has a harsh judgment about someone who is gay, or of a different skin tone. Why are we falling victim to the evils known as anger and hatred? Why are we creating strife and divide and letting ourselves become hostile and cold?
While there are many morals in this story, the really big ones are: love, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. If we embrace these things, we will have a much happier and fulfilled life. As always, we have a choice to make: we can chose anger and live in darkness, or we can choose love, kindness, forgiveness and compassion and live in the light.
“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” – Psalm 37:8
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.” – Proverbs 22:24