Sometimes, life is hard. We have to do something we thought we would never have to do, wish we never had to do. Sometimes, it’s in our business; sometimes, it’s with our children; sometimes, it’s an elderly parent; sometimes, it’s telling a friend something hard. To be responsible, to handle a difficult situation, we may have to do something we are afraid will hurt someone’s feelings – but, it has to be done for the greater good. Jagat Singh, an Indian mystic, said, “Never hurt the heart of any man. God lives there.” Even though we try to live our lives this way, it seems that sometimes, we can’t prevent it.
My dad loved to shoot. He would “target practice” almost daily. He was left-handed and could throw a walnut up and hit it with a handgun. He was a very good shot. We lived on a farm out in the country and so having a gun was necessary for protection and he kept one beside his bed. Other than potential intruders, we had wild boar, rats, etc., that occasionally had to be dealt with. Dad made sure that everyone in the family knew how to safely handle a gun – something very important if anyone is going to have a gun around. He was adamant about gun safety, taught me how to shoot and handle a gun.
When my dad was elderly, however, his hands were shaky and he couldn’t hold a gun the way he used to. His eyesight was to the point where he couldn’t read the big E at the eye doctor’s office with his glasses on. At 88 years, glaucoma and diabetes and just advancing years took their toll. Dad thought he saw an intruder and shot over my mother’s head. That’s when I knew that it was time that I had to do something very hard – I had to put away my dad’s guns.
There was no way other than to tell him the truth – that he taught me everything I knew about gun safety, and that it wasn’t safe for him to handle guns anymore. That had to be one of the hardest things I ever had to do. This was a clear-cut issue – for safety of everyone in the household and for his own safety, we had to put the guns away. There have been other tough things with my kids, in business, in my personal life – but, taking away something from a parent that they love was the hardest.
When we have to do something hard, we can still do it with love and kindness. We feel the pain, we know it’s hard for the person receiving it, and we hurt along with them – but, do everything with love. That’s what makes us human.