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It's been said that you have to love yourself in order to be able to love anybody else. I think that's true. And with love comes respect. So of course you have to have your boundaries. You have to respect yourself and require that respect from others as you give it to them.

There is a difference between teaching someone something and telling them what needs to be done. For example, a carpenter is building something. You see that he does not seem to know what he is doing and is having a hard time. If he is working on your house you tell him to stop and show him how you want it done. He may learn from you , he may not.  If he is working on his own house, you can tell him that you know of a better way. Then he can ask you to show him - or not.

When people signed up for my English class (ESL) in Costa Rica, they really wanted to learn. I read somewhere that studies have been done and we humans are happiest when we are learning. They observed the same in the animal world. (Don't ask me how they knew if the animals were happy.) We were all happy in my classes. Everybody laughed and had fun while we learned. But most all of them did not do their homework or practice outside of class. Some learned, some didn't.

As for love. I believe that is the reason we are all here in this life - to learn to love. It is a HUGE challenge. It is much easier for me to love your sweet little babies than even thinking about loving Hitler. I don't know the answer. But every day I get lessons in tolerance and detachment and loving myself and others.

I will never forget a big lesson once when I had been to a movie with a friend. She and I had had different reactions to the movie and on the way on the way home I was quiet. She wanted to talk and I wanted some time to reflect. She took offense to that and really railed into me. I took offense and yelled back. Then in the midst of it all it occured to me that for her to be that antagonistic to me, who had done nothing to her, she must really be hurting inside. My simple mental realization seemed to defuse the hostility. I hugged her and she just bawled. Her anger had nothing to do with me. Her reaction to my choice to look beyond my own hurt feelings and love her any way taught me something I keep with me always. 

My grown kids still remember what I used to say about the bullys in school. "The ones that are hardest to love are the ones that need it the most." (I'm not taking credit for that, I heard it somewhere and it seemed like a good thing to say.) Love has respect for all life. To show love to those stupid kids you mentioned, you have to make them stop torturing the cat or the other kid.

Utimately, there are no clear lines. These high ideals feel much more achievable on a one to one basis, situation by situation rather than considering something so big as how could anybody love Hitler. We just have to do the best we can and forgive ourselves and others when we screw up.






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