The older I get the more I look back in admiration and respect for a wonderful woman. She was a master teacher and an electrifying student motivator. My youthful deviancy in classroom behavior was hastily squelched by her simply looking at me and smiling. Shame exploded in my heart, compelling an immediate correction of any classroom mischief.
I have longed to visit her and relate to her what an inspiration she has been to me all these years; especially since I have found myself spending some 33 years teaching. But alas, by the time I finally matured enough to comprehend her greatness; she had entered into her everlasting reward.
A simple smile emanating with kindness, understanding, power, and patience delivered a monumental punch. Maybe what I am trying to say is expressed in the old adage, “A drop of honey does more than a gallon of vinegar.”
Enabling us to act patiently in kindness in the face of some kind of negative experience is not natural, but Godly; reflecting something of the presence and strength of Divine grace and guidance.
To compare the trivialities of adolescent classroom behavior to international military conflict will appear as quite juvenile and even silly for many — most especially to those who professionally dedicate their lives to the art of conducting military confrontation.
“Kill them with kindness” is for real. Our U.S. custom of military belligerence, destroying and killing (war) to stop the evil of unjust aggression and human deprivation somewhere in the world, has a notoriously dubious track record.
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. are all bathed in American blood and smothered in American dollars; yet the objective of peace has been evasive in all these instances.
The countries mentioned above are all plagued with poverty — a people hurting for the necessities of life. Even with the best of intentions our military efforts are wont to leave these people in the same condition, if not worse. Trigger-happy militants with malicious designs are prompted and poised for our military confrontation. Coming with food, clothes, shelter, peace and patient for negotiations would surely provide a different encounter.
I hold in highest esteem the courageous men and women in our military who provide peace for me and all Americans, with the same esteem I revere the thousands who lay in veterans hospitals maimed for life, along with the additional thousands that lie in their graves. I am crying out for a better way… perhaps a patient, peace-making smile.
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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