How Love Can Alter Human Lives and Change Human Nature

In 1965 a story was published that teaches a beautiful and powerful lesson. It is the story of a paroled convict. A friend of Prison Warden Kenyon J. Scudder happened to be sitting in a railroad coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the man revealed that he was a paroled convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame to his family, and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel and too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.

To make it easy for them, however, he had written them to put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him, they were to put a white ribbon in the big apple tree which stood near the tracks. If they didn’t want him to return, they were to do nothing, and he would remain on the train as it travelled west.

As the train neared his home town, the suspense became so great he couldn’t bear to look out of his window. He exclaimed, “In just five minutes the engineer will sound the whistle, indicating our approach to the long bend which opens into the valley I know as home. Will you watch for the apple tree at the side of the track?” His companion changed places with him and said he would. The minutes seemed like hours, but then there came the shrill sound of the train whistle. The young man asked, “Can you see the tree? Is there a white ribbon?”

Came the reply: “I see the tree. I see not one white ribbon, but many. There must be a white ribbon on every branch. Son, someone surely does love you.”

Warden Scudder’s friend said afterwards that he felt like he had witnessed a miracle that day. The love and forgiveness extended by the convict’s family gave him the power to change. I believe that such a generous act of kindness cannot help but change the giver of such a gift as well.

There is a destiny that makes us brothers;
None goes his way alone:
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own
(Edwin Markham)

We cannot do good to others without good coming back into our own lives. It is a principle and a law as fixed and unchanging as the law of gravity. As we do good to other people and raise them up, we in turn are lifted to higher planes. We become more as we help others to become more.

Let me leave you with one last story to illustrate the great power for good loving others can have. It comes from the classic stage show “My Fair Lady.” Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl, spoke to one for whom she cared and who later was to lift her from such mediocre status: “You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.” (Adapted from Pygmalion, in The Complete Plays of Bernard Shaw, p. 260.)
As we look around us, I invite us all to see people in the light of their true and full potential and to treat them as such. I know that such kindness and strength of character has the power to change their lives – and it has the power to change ours.
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This entry was posted in Humans Being More by Ben Woodward. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ben Woodward

As a former company President Ben has travelled the world helping people to achieve their personal best and pursue a better way of being. This blog is designed to help people connect with the attributes and skills required to find and foster happiness. He and his wife are the parents of seven children and dream of one day getting a good nights sleep.

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