I was angry, mean and hateful to my wife and my daughter for many years. My wife was seven years younger than me when her family paid a fair sum of money for me to marry her. I made her work and work hard. That's what she was supposed to do. She took care of the house and food and anything I demanded. I sent her out each day to find away to earn some money - begging mostly. I took all she brought home and spent it on myself. She had nothing just as I thought is should be.
I never made "love" to her. I just "took" her whenever I wanted her. She'd cry sometimes but I didn't care. I thought she was a weak coward and stupid. l really had no feelings about her at all that weren't hateful.
I thought as man that I had the "right" to treat her pretty much as a slave and that it was expected of me. It was what my father as well as the men in this village said was proper. It was the way men here had behaved for generations. I thought it was normal. The way a "real" man behaves and feels.WE LIVE WHAT WE LEARN.
One day my three year old daughter, a beautiful child, became ill. I didn't feel sorry for her. I was angry because she couldn't do the simple chores I had been making her do. One night my wife left the house in the middle of the night while I was sleeping and took the child to an old woman with remedies. I didn't know my wife had saved and hidden a little money away to pay the woman. I was furious when they returned home. I started hitting my wife and kicking her and screaming calling her all sorts of degrading names. I grabbed the girl child from her and threw the child on the floor. She didn't cry. l thought she was dead and good riddance. The girl child didn't die.
A few days later I was sitting outside in my rickety chair. I must have fallen asleep. I must have been dreaming for suddenly, standing before me, was a huge figure of a man (at least as tall as that shade tree over there), in long colorful robes of shimmering flowing cloth. He was brilliant. I mean he was all light. Bright light. I was scared. Really scared. He towered about five feet from me staring right into my eyes. I couldn't move. I thought he was going to kill me.
When he spoke his voice was deep and unbelievably soft and gentle. He said, "I have something to show you. Pay attention."
Then, right before my eyes, I was watching, like on a large screen - me. My life. I saw every detail of my life from my hurtful childhood of hits and yelling and neglect from my parents. I re-lived all the many, many times I turned my anger outward onto other kids and hurt them bad so I could feel a little relief.I felt every hit, every tear, every ounce of pain that they had once felt as I watched myself unleash on them. And I felt the superior feeling of self-satisfaction being better than they were. Somehow it didn't feel so good this time.
I saw my family and the way I treated my wife and daughter. Again, I was made to feel every hurtful word, jester and inflection of pain. All of it. All of it each and every time!
I started crying. Not a thing for a man in this village to do. I couldn't help it. I cried like a baby.
The man-of-light said, "Now you know the suffering you have caused. Love is the difference. Practice love." I woke up with a start and wiped the tears from my eyes.
Love? What is love? I don't know what love is. I thought about it long and hard and decided to start learning about love. But how? Kindness? Compassion? Tolerance? The men will laugh at me. Kindness. I'll start with that and see how it goes.
To tell you the truth, my attempts at kindness scared my wife at first. I went to help her lift a heavy jar and she quickly backed away from me. She thought I was going to hit her. I felt her fear. My daughter cried when I picked her up and held her. I felt her sadness. This is all crap I told in frustration. I feel everything they feel. This is going to drive me crazy. Still I had to know what kindness felt like. I wanted to start learning about love.
Well, it was a very slow process I can tell you. It took lots of time and effort and quite frankly I wasn't always that successful. Still I didn't give up. Slowly, ever so slowly, I began seeing my wife as a strong, beautiful woman with a smile that could light up the village. I noticed how other women came to her for the wise advice she could give them. I noticed her....and admired her. Our life got better a day at a time. I learned about all aspects of love - including "making love". We got happy.
The man-of-light came once more in my sleep about two years later. He told me I had done well. Now, he said, I had to go out into the village and teach other men. I tried. I was shunned and called names and one elder even threw stones at me. There was a time I would have just quit had I even dared to begin in the first place. But I kept on. I keep on to this day. I have had some success with one man at a time. (There are 12 of us now who promote all the various aspects of love.) One man at a time is helping to change eons of tradition. I guess that is what it takes: One man, one woman, one child, one day at a time practicing love and sharing it with others.