“Sit. Take this plate. Look at it closely. Examine it. What do you see?”
“It’s decorated,” Jill replied, her young age obstructing her perspective.
“What more?” her aunt pressed.
“It’s colourful. Artfully decorated. It seems handcrafted. And there are so many details. You need to look closely to see them. To appreciate them”.
“Good. Now throw it down”.
Jill glared at her aunt.
“Throw the plate down”.
“But…but, it will break”, she uttered, scared.
“That’s the point”.
Jill let the plate go, reluctantly. It fell onto the ground and broke into numerous pieces of all sizes.
“Pick it up and try to place the pieces back together”.
Jill tried, but there were many smaller pieces that had fractured and were too small to find or stick back together.
“Now what do you see?”
“It’s broken,” Jill sighed, genuinely saddened.
“It’s not the same. It’s not as beautiful. You can see the cracks and even if it is glued, they will still be evident. And the colour seems almost faded because of it”.
“Isn’t it still the same plate, though?”
“I guess”. The little girl seemed perplexed.
“People are like this handcrafted plate,” her aunt finally explained the meaning of this exercise. Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. You need to look closely to see all those details that make each person special. But people, contrary to objects, have feelings. If they are pushed aside for too long, like a plate on the edge of a counter, they will fall and break. And once they do, they will carry the scars within them. No matter how much they try to pull themselves back together, to survive and go on, the scars will remain, perhaps faded, but they are still there. Time won’t heal them; it will just make it easier to live with them”.
Jill stared, listening attentively to every word.
“Always be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know what scars each person hides. And treat people as softly and sympathetically as you would want to be treated. Not everyone sees the world the same way, but kindness is universal”.