There is a lot of hate in this world. All you have to do is click through your news feed on your favorite news source to see it–Florida, Syria, politics in this country (and many others too) just to touch the very tip of the ice berg. There is so much hate that even in this month that includes Valentine’s Day, it is easy to ignore love.
Earlier this week as I was reading through the day’s news, I ran across an article on Fred Rogers, the famous children’s television show host. His gentle demeanor and kind voice hold a profound place in my childhood and my heart. (If you are unfamiliar with him, I encourage you to read up on him and to check out some of his old shows, many of which are available free on PBS Kids.) The article included the following quote from this wise and wonderful man:
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like ‘struggle.’ To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Sit with this for a moment. How often do we think of love as a static thing? We either have it or we don’t. All or nothing. For most of us, I think the answer is almost always.
Thinking about “love” as being active though changes things. Love becomes something we have to do, something that is okay if it is a work-in-progress, something that we can’t ever say we have fully completed, something that we must continue to work at. It is something we can fail at one day or one moment and then pick ourselves up and keep trying.
I particularly like how Rogers juxtaposes “love” with “struggle” because it is a struggle many days. Whether it is a student who seems to have made it his personal mission in life to make your classroom miserable or your children when they are on their fifth argument of the day and it is only 9am or your neighbor who seems to have a chronic frown on her face and cross word on her tongue, love is often difficult. And those who need our love the most are often the ones who are the biggest struggle to love.
Lastly, as Rogers points out, love is not contingent on someone else–we need to love them exactly as they are, “right here and now.” Love doesn’t say, “I’ll love you if…” If you pick up your socks, or quit talking in my class, or say something nice to me, or LOVE ME FIRST. Love is dependent on one person–yourself.
So I challenge you to love actively this week. Don’t come up with excuses, don’t put it off, don’t love just those who are easy to love. Love is a struggle, but one that is well worth the effort.
And if we do this, the headlines will slowly become less about the Floridas and the Syrias and the Democrats versus Republicans and more about, as Fred Rogers said at the end of every episode, loving others “just the way [they] are.”
This Week’s Featured Product
Great for comparing and contrasting four sets of things, these three Venn diagrams are a useful addition to any classroom. For more details or to download this product, click here!
This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher: Who do you find easy to love? Who do you find difficult to love? What can you do to move more people from the second group into the first? Who is one person you really need to focus on moving? How will you do this?
For the student: Define “love.” Give at least three examples of it.
A Recipe from My Kitchen:
Green Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- Several green tomatoes, sliced–about 8 cups total
- Hint: All summer I have have access to green tomatoes out of my garden. Right before the first frost kills all my plants, I pick every last green tomato, slice them, and then freeze them for use over the winter. If you didn’t do this and it is not summer when you have access to a garden but want to make this sauce, tomatoes are often shipped to grocery stores in a green or nearly green state and then kept in the back until they ripen. Ask your grocer if the store has any that you can purchase.
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2-3 hot peppers (like jalapeños), deseeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon (more or less to taste) ground black pepper
- Cooked pasta of your choice
- Parmesan cheese and sour cream or plain yogurt for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350º.
- In an oven-safe pot, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent and just starting to brown.
- Add garlic to the mix and cook until fragrant.
- Add ground beef and cook mixture until meat is browned through and beef is crumbled. Do not drain.
- Add remaining ingredients, and stir until well combined.
- Cover pot. Put it in your oven to cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Pull out of oven and mash with a potato masher (more for a smoother sauce, less for a chunkier sauce).
- If your sauce is too watery, place the pot with the sauce back on the stove (uncovered) and simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Serve over hot pasta with parmesan cheese and sour cream/plain yogurt for garnish.