The problem with the world is that we draw our family circle too small. – Mother Teresa
What does that mean?
To me, the quote is telling us that we treat people in different manners depending on the label we have given to them. Typically immediate family has highest priority, then come more distant relations and friends. Then there are acquaintances, in the middle zone of ambivalence. At the bottom are the people you don’t know and those you don’t care to know.
I can imagine Mother Teresa seeing this as a form of caste system, being how it was prevalent in India, where she spent her latter years. Think about that, a caste system. You like people with freckles, so you treat them well. But people with brown hair, well that’s quite a different story. Does that make any sense? Should we treat people differently?
Why is treating people better important?
While those of you with particularly dysfunctional families might not relate to this, consider how different your life, your neighborhood and your workplace might be if you treated everyone like they were family. One might want to make exceptions for those who have wronged you, but what if you treated everyone else like a long lost friend?
If you take it to a national scale, you can see how things could change in the world if we recognized that the government of this country doesn’t like the government of that country. What could the people do to welcome each other, to help each other? Yes, it’s a bit idealistic, but sometimes you have to stretch a little if you want to see grow or change, right?
Where can I apply this in my life?
This one’s a bit difficult for me, as I am a rock-solid introvert. While I have a few friends, most people are just acquaintances. I try to treat them well, and interact with strangers, but it doesn’t always work out as well as I would like. Over the years, I have been getting better at interpersonal interactions. However, I’m not sure I want to be too much of an extrovert. 8)
When I got to thinking about this quote, I thought of just two circles, family & everyone else. I quickly realized that it works for the quote, but isn’t a very accurate representation of our lives. Then the caste system came to mind, as practiced in India for centuries.
This more accurately mimics how I divide people into my concentric circles of family/brothers, friends, acquaintances, others & scary people. The latter is specifically for the creepy, scary people that give you the willies just seeing them. How do you divide people, and how your treatment of people differs depending on their group?
Consider all the people you have interacted with in the last 24 hours. Grab some paper, then take a moment and place each one into a caste based on your attitude towards them. Make between three to five ‘buckets’ (one for caste) into which you will sort each, and label them as you wish.
Select one person from each bucket. Write down their name, bucket, and how the interaction went today, leaving some space between each. Now go back and move them up by one bucket, and write how the interaction would have been different based on their new bucket. Now move them up another bucket and try again.
With any luck you saw that you started being nicer as they closer and closer to the top. Now think about the whole day and how it might have been different if you had treated everyone at least one bucket higher. How did that work out? Did you have a better day? Even if your day was the same, how were the days of the others impacted? Did you help them have a better day?
Now consider how much more it would cost you (in time, effort, etc) to treat them better. When I did this, I found that it was well worth the time and effort (minimal) to get a fairly good return both for my life and for the lives of others. I’m still not as good as the quote, but I’m moving in that direction.
Will you commit to treating people better for the next month or two? Even if you stop at that point, you will have moved at least a tiny bit forward. Just imagine if we all did it for a few months, and the impact we could have. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but am I the only one? I don’t think so, do you?
From: Twitter, @thequote
confirmed at : http://in.mycelebrity.com/mother-teresa/quote/903222 This one was difficult to source, not at any of my usual places. It might be something she said, but no one wrote down, or it may be that it sounds like something she would have said.
Photo by sjsharktank