Love Anyway

[I posted this about a year and a half ago. It’s a helpful read when I’m feeling sorry for myself and less generous. This is a good time to post it again.]

There is a quotation often attributed, incorrectly, to Mother Teresa. One segment of it reads, “People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.” Certainly the generosity expressed here is reminiscent of the blessed sister. But they were not her words.

I quoted a portion of the same text about a year ago. At the time the attribution I saw, and used, was incorrect. Since then I’ve learned the truth, and want to share with you the whole, original version. It was written by Dr. Kent M. Keith.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001


16 thoughts on “Love Anyway

  1. Jim in IA

    People seem to fall into two broad classes. Some do what these commandments ask. Others, the opposite. Seems it is a deep-seated trait of we humans to choose either to strive for higher ideals, or to say what’s the use, and not try. I am glad you choose the former.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Kate. I hadn’t heard that variation, but that’s fits in the way I’ve been trying to live. And with more practice, I’m less afraid. 🙂 Happy Sunday.

  2. Steve Gingold

    It’s easy to see why this would be attributed to a saint. Sometimes it seems we must be one to follow this advice and it is too easy to lose sight of what is most good in ourselves and other humans.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      My niece spoke yesterday of an experience she had. Someone she saw was begging for money. She asked if they needed food and they said no, they needed $10 more to buy a bus pass. She knows they could have been lying. It didn’t matter to her. She decided that sometimes people will take advantage of you, but it’s often right to give anyway. We don’t need to be saints to try to see others (and ourselves) with compassion.

      1. Steve Gingold

        No we don’t need to be saints, but it sometimes feels that our humanity is torn from us by a world that make being good a daily challenge. Your niece is very good. I’ve wrestled with the idea of giving or not with the folks at the street corners. We all do what we can but often it doesn’t seem enough.

        1. Steve Gingold

          Maybe not, but it will keep them warm a lot longer than some alcohol which is what that $10 might have bought. Water on a hot day isn’t much either but it can make a big difference for a while.

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