How to Make Someone’s Life Better
Love starts with ignorance and ends with understanding.
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It's not that we forgot.
It's that we never knew to begin with.
And it’s hard to know which poison is worse:
The wrath of oppressors, the hatred in their hearts, or the apathy of bystanders.
From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor the fire of wrath; but if we had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate to say that for destruction it too is also great, and would certainly suffice.
(Please send my regards to Robert Frost.)
The word hubris seems appropriate here—the quality of excessive pride, dangerous overconfidence, and unmerited arrogance.
Arrogance itself seems also fitting, which comes to us from words meaning to claim or seize without justification and to attribute without reason.
In this light, it may be tempting to conclude that ignorance is the most apt description, but even this misses the mark, because to be ignorant is to insinuate a want of knowledge—yet the hate of the oppressors do not so much want knowledge as they want to ignore and overlook knowledge.
As the philosopher Amy McKiernan suggests: “Arrogance leaves little room for growth, whereas ignorance—if we are brave enough to recognize and name it—invites us to search for the truth and become better versions of ourselves.”
If it’s not ignorance, then perhaps pretension is the word we’re looking for—the putting forth of false claims of merit, dignity, and importance.
Whatever the word we choose to use, they all point to a desire for victory rather than reconciliation. Hate doesn’t want to win friends and influence people; it just doesn't want to lose (even if it means not necessarily winning).
Bestow the Powers of Love
In 2007 I stumbled upon an antidote for the three poisons—tucked away in a guardian angel’s scrapbook just days after she disappeared up above:
A guardian angel flew down from above to teach me a lesson about the powers of love. She whispers to me, takes a hold of my hand:
“There are so many things I wish you to understand about the powers of love and all it can do to someone who needs to share it with you. A pat on the back, a kind smile on your face, can make someone's life a much brighter place. It doesn't take much to show someone you care, to give them the love God gave you to share, so please keep in mind all the powers you possess to grace someone's life when they're in distress. You've been put on this earth to bestow the powers of love.”
And with those final words, she disappeared up above.
It Starts with Your Neighbor
A pat on the back and a kind smile on your face—it’s really that simple.
We can take this message to heart no matter who we are, where we are, or the role we play in the fabric of the universe. As Rihanna would remind us, you don’t have to be rich or famous to help people: “It starts with your neighbor.”
If you’re not sure how to begin, the author Gary Chapman offers five suggestions for bestowing the powers of love:
Love Loves First
However you choose to bestow it in your own unique way, remember that Love doesn’t discriminate. Love doesn’t care about your age, gender, race, heritage, sexual orientation, religion, political ideology, or any of that.
Love doesn’t get to know you first and then decides to love you. Love loves you first, and that’s how it gets to know you.
Love starts with ignorance and ends with understanding.
Without Love, there can be no understanding—and without understanding, the three poisons are left to their (de)vices.
All Done in Love
As for me and my house, I know what I choose.
In 2017 I commissioned the Ukrainian graphic artist Torrie Gorbylyova to create a poster for my work as a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination. The poster is a behind-the-scenes view from the stage looking out into the audience. All you can see of me is my back, but what is in full view are the smiling faces of the people being served in the audience. Inscribed in the lower right corner is a mantra reminding me of what I can do to make someone’s life better:
“All done in love.”
The message is clear. Bestowing the powers of Love is not about the self; it’s about others.
Make Someone’s Life Better
In his song “If I Had Wings,” the singer Darius Rucker asks:
“Why do we hate? Why do we suffer? Why do we make our mistakes and constantly blame one another? Why is there war? And why is there killing? Have we forgotten some secret we knew back when we were just children?”
Darius poses some great questions, but I don’t think it's that we forgot anything. It's that we never knew to begin with.
Surely if we knew better, we would do better, right?
(My goodness, I surely hope we might.)
Perhaps it’s not so much a battle between hatred and wrath afterall. Maybe Robert Frost would have done well to also consider the very real danger of apathy. As Martin Luther King reminds us: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
As for me, my heart aches for Torrie, her husband Ilya, and their beautiful dog Martha. Since February 24, 2022, their lives have been in danger and this very real threat to their very existence is something I cannot be silent about.
Because I Love them.
Because they are me in disguise.
Because if it were me, I would want someone in my corner too.
Because we have been put on this earth to bestow the powers of Love.
What will you leave that will go on forever? What can you do while you’re here to make someone's life better?
Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination. Through his company, Hashtag Positivity, he assists individuals, teams, and communities in “Being Well By Living Well” to experience abiding joy. Connect with Jonas today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can support this work by buying a book.
 “Hubris.” (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hubris
 Webster's new collegiate dictionary. (1976). G. & C. Merriam Company. p. 63
 Webster's new world dictionary of the American language.(1978). G. & C. Merriam Company. p. 77
 “Ignorance.” (n.d.). Etymonline. www.etymonline.com/word/ignorance
 McKiernan, A. (2021, November). “Which is worse? Arrogance or ignorance?” American University Magazine. www.american.edu/magazine/article/which-is-worse-arrogance-or-ignorance.cfm
 “Pretension.” (n.d.). Etymonline. www.etymonline.com/word/pretension
 Krauss, S.W. (2017, May 2). “What makes the arrogant person so arrogant?” Psychology Today. www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201705/what-makes-the-arrogant-person-so-arrogant
 Rihanna. [MassLive]. (2017, March 1). Rihanna named Harvard University's Humanitarian of the Year [Video]. YouTube. MassLive.” https://youtu.be/CF7a76CnzHE
 Chapman, G. (1992). The five love languages. Northfield Publishing.
 With my regards to David Hayward, The Naked Pastor.
 Rucker, D. (2008). If I Had Wings. On Learn To Live. [Audio album]. Capitol Nashville.
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Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.