What if Hate Was Not an Option?

Have you ever found yourself at work or in your personal life stuck with someone you just can’t come around to liking, and whose behavior you find impossible to approve? In these situations, it is not hard to feel some sort of hatred. But what would happen if hate were not an option?

Please set aside your spiritual beliefs for a moment. I’m going to draw an analogy from Christian tradition that might help us deal with these situations. Bear with me. According to tradition, god can only love. Hate is not an option. Now, given all the evil humans are capable of, it must be hard to always love and never hate.

So how does god manage it? Well, the tradition makes a few distinctions. It says that you can disapprove of a situation without hating the person. It says you can be hard on the behavior and soft with the person. It says we can dislike someone and still wish the best for them.

The tradition states that we have a choice. That we can choose to accept that even when we dislike someone, other people do like them. That we can choose to condemn the behavior but not the person. That we can love even when we don’t like.

This may seem a too big of an ask, one that only the gods are capable of. But it is not so. As a priest and throughout the years I’ve seen it happen, even in very extreme situations, situations of betrayal, of sexual abuse, and even of homicide. Perhaps we are not too far from the heavens when we recognize that hate is really not an option.

What They Did to Cinderella and, How It Helps

When my daughter, Irene, and I watch a movie on Sunday afternoons, she often says: “I know what’s going to happen, daddy.” What she means is the couch will be more persuasive than the screen, and I’ll fall asleep. This spell was broken when we watched the new Cinderella movie. I couldn’t sleep, and the movie even stole a few of my tears.

So what did they do? Back to this in a moment. First, let me say there’s an important lesson here. Second, no need for a spoiler alert, because I’m not going to tell you what happens. Third, you already know the story, right? And it’s not like they’re going to change the story. Otherwise it would no longer be the story of Cinderella!

So what did they do? Back to this in a moment. Notice that for it to continue being the story of Cinderella, the plot has to be the same, that is, her fight for freedom and a better life. Also, the characters have to be the same: stepmother, stepsisters, prince, fairy godmother, and so forth.

So what did they do? A better question is: What COULD they do? When we’re stuck in a story in life, with the same old plot and with the same darn characters, what CAN we do? What they could do — and did brilliantly — was change the CHARACTERIZATION.

The plot then takes on an entirely different flare, and maybe, just maybe, we get a different ending.

When you can’t change the plot, when you can’t change the characters, change the CHARACTERIZATION.

P.S. If you’re wondering if we can change, recall the words of Viktor Frankl, neurologist and Holocaust survivor: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

A Lesson From Australian Lizards Mating

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

A while back, I heard about a special kind of Australian lizard on a National Geographic TV Show. I do not remember the species’ name nor could I find it online. What makes these guys special is that there are two sizes of males: the big ones and the medium dudes.

In evolutionary terms, the existence of the medium dudes does not make sense, because the big ones are the ones who get to mate, thus generating more big lizards. Not having mated, the medium dudes eventually should have disappeared.

So why are the medium dudes around? Scientists investigated and figured it out. Here’s how it goes down. Big lizards gather at the entrance of their caves to fight for the females who await inside.

While the big ones are distracted fighting, the medium dudes (who are roughly the same size of females) waltz into the caves and mate with the females. That’s how they beat the law of the fittest.

What is your usual approach to a challenge? Are you like the big ones? Or are you a medium dude?

Even nature understands we need medium dudes. Merry Christmas.

Wisdom for Teams #31

Scene from the movie “The Little Prince” (Netflix)

-A scene from the animated movie “The Little Prince(Netflix)-

[The fox said] “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

“It is the time I have wasted for my rose,” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

 In “The Little Prince” by ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY (1900 – 1944), French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator. 

Xmas Gift List (Including Gifts to Oneself)

When I was about three, so my moms says, at one of the big family parties my parents used to host at home, one of my cousins of about the same age would not stop crying. I asked my mom why. She explained he had lost his pacifier.

I walked away in silence, went upstairs to my room and returned with my pacifier in hand, and then I plucked it into the open mouth of my crying relative, and that was the end of pacifiers for me.

This week I asked myself: If could only pick one value for a good life, what would it be? My usual top three are humility, gratitude and generosity. After some reflection, I picked generosity. I think I picked generosity when I was about three.

It’s funny how giving is both a gift for the receiver as well as the giver. And there are many forms of generosity beyond the material. Here’s a list of what we can give this holiday season, including to ourselves.

  • Giving time
  • Giving patience
  • Giving silence
  • Giving peace
  • Giving joy
  • Giving understanding
  • Giving empathy
  • Giving positivity
  • Giving energy
  • Giving the benefit of the doubt
  • Giving a second chance
  • Giving up being right
  • Giving the center stage
  • Giving sincere appreciation
  • Giving belief in someone
  • Giving forgiveness
  • Giving unconditional love

What could you give more?

What would you add to this list?

My Worst Enemy

Photo by Rachel Martin on Unsplash

And then I suddenly remember I want to send a message to my sister Maria asking her how she’s feeling. I open WhatsApp and see a message from my ex-wife. It’s about Irene, our daughter. It’s important, so I call.

After, I open WhatsApp again, and see a few messages that I read and respond to. I put my phone down, and go back to work on my computer. And then I suddenly remember I want to send a message to my sister Maria asking her how she’s feeling. I open WhatsApp and see…

I’m not the most distracted person. In my good days as a student in Rome, I could spend a whole afternoon without even getting up to use the toilet. But today there is so much more competing for my attention, so much more going on on my phone and in my head. The result is I set out to do something and end up doing something else. And I hate it.

To do short sprints of work with zero interruptions I sometimes use Pomodor, and when I’m with people I tend to forget my phone. But I still haven’t figured out a way of making sure the first thing I do when I pick up my phone is exactly what I intended to do.

How do you deal with distraction?

What are your ways of doing what you mean to do?