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As a high school teacher, I strive to maintain a persona of impeccable professionalism every moment of every day. Almost.
On rare occasions, however, when I can no longer resist the impulse to really get under my students’ skin, I indulge a streak of sadism and utter those few words guaranteed to enrage even the most mild-mannered teenager.
Are you ready? This is what I say:
“Your dog doesn’t love you.”
And I don’t stop there. Pausing a few seconds to allow the full measure of indignation to begin boiling over, I follow up with:
“And you don’t love your dog.”
I have plenty of ammunition in my arsenal to defend my point. But in addition to the logic of my argument, I now have a current study that supports my claim.
Strength doesn’t mean not needing anyone else. It means not being a slave to internal or external forces.
“Who is mighty?” asks the Talmud. “The one who masters his impulses and inclinations.”
But we still need other people, and the downside of being strong is the presumption by others that everything is always okay.
So don’t forget to ask the people close to you how they’re doing, even when they seem to be on top of the world. Sometimes strength is a burden that we can’t carry alone.
In Hebrew, the word for flame is lahava, related to the word ahava, which means love. A flame is broad at the base and narrows to a point: in the same way, two people might be very different from one another, but if they share a common sense of purpose they come to love one another.
And as with a flame — as well as a smile — you lose nothing by loving others.