A child learns early there is a fashionable and an unfashionable in the world, an ugly and a pretty, a valued and an unvalued. Where this system comes from, God only knows, but it is rarely questioned, and though completely illogical and agreed upon by everyone as evil, it remains in play, commanding our emotions as a possession. It isn't something taught in us by our parents; it is something that comes naturally, as though a radioactive kind of tragedy happened, screwing up our souls. Adulterated or policed, the system can grow to something more civilized, but no less dominant as a drive of nature.

Some people get the worst of it, its true. You grow up being told that all people are created equal, but they aren't. Some people are born into better homes than others, and some people look better than others, and some people are smarter and some people run faster.

I get this feeling sometimes that after the world ends, when God destroys all our buildings and our flags, we will wish we had seen everybody as equal, that we had eaten dinner with prostitutes, held them in our arms, opened up spare rooms for them and loved them and learned from them. [When I was young] I didn't know any of these things. I didn't know it didn't matter what a person looked like, how much money they made or whether or not they were cool. I didn't know that cool was a myth and that one person was just as beautiful and meaningful as another. Like I said, it felt important to climb the social ladder, it felt important to defend our identities, it felt as though we were saving our own lives.

[d. miller]


I could hear them giggling and chattering away, forever. So, I peeked around the tall shelving of the biography section of the bookstore and saw them: two little girls, one with curls and one without, both holding straws and tormenting each other with them, blowing through them, and covering their faces and laughing. Their mother was evidently absorbed in the search of a book and didn't seem to notice them very much, or their indelicate, un-bookstore behavior. I didn't mind though, and so turned back to my side of the shelf and began perusing the titles again, absentmindedly listening to their childish conversation. After a while of loud whispering and giggling, they suddenly rounded the corner talking excitedly and I glanced up. There they stood, beaming with pride, with their straws stuck carefully in their teeth, making the straw hang from their mouths, ridiculously. And the little girl with curls, with a distinct lisp from that piece of plastic dangling from her teeth, said with much dignity and conviction:

"Yeth! I think I will definitely be a dentilist when I grow up."


I've been considering love, humble love. Such a love is capable of penetrating a cold world, for its strength is incalculable, it is marvelous, beautiful. For in such love we find the clearest and most refined reflection of His love; such servant-hearted devotion. But, it is hard for our human hearts to love in such humility. It is hard for us to love at all, sometimes, and yet to love in a humble way is the hardest of all. I forget to love so often in my everyday exchanges. And if I remember and happen to feel in the mood to love, I do, but then that really isn't love at all, least of all a humble love. "For we must love not only occasionally, for a moment, but forever. Everyone can love occasionally, even the wicked can," wrote the author, Fyodor Dostoevsky. He described such all-embracing humility as "an ocean... flowing and blending; a touch in one place sets up movement at the other end of the earth." In his book, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky recounts a scene wherein a man of society flew in a rage and gave his orderly two bloody blows to his face. After the quieting of his "brutal humor" the story continues,
"I hid my face in my hands, fell on my bed and broke into a storm of tears... That is what a man has been brought to, and that was a man beating a fellow creature! What a crime! It was as if a sharp dagger had pierced me through... And I remembered my brother and what he said on his deathbed to his servants: 'My dear ones, why do you wait on me, why do you love me, am I worth your waiting on me?'"
Oh, why is it so easy to hate and so hard to love? Why is it much easier to speak in pride and harshness, strike out in anger, or brandish violence and yell at that stupid driver who obviously doesn't know how to merge? I am trying to make love a top priority in my daily life. But, its easier to make my well being a priority rather than someone else's. I have enough to worry about, keeping my life together, do I need the added exercise? I admit, I'd much rather focus on my individuality, my security, my peace. But, is peace secured by a silent mouth? By an individualistic, partially loving, nonspeaking heart? It can't be, for peace is attained by the great opposite-- by the opening of one's mouth and heart in all-compassing brotherly love, and by the death of one's personal status and advantage. "Sometimes even if he has to do it alone, and his conduct seems to be crazy, a man must set an example, and so draw men's souls out of their solitude, and spur them to some act of brotherly love, that the great idea may not die" (Dostoevsky).

. . .

"What!" they asked, "are we to make our servants
sit down on the sofa and offer them tea? And I answered them:
"Why not, sometimes at least." Everyone laughed.
Their question was frivolous and my answer was not clear;
but the thought in it was to some extent right."

-The Brothers Karamazov

. . .


Some natural tears they
dropped, but wiped them
The world was all before
them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and
Providence their guide,
They, hand in hand, with
wandering steps and slow,
through Eden took their
solitary way.

John Milton (Paradise Lost)