Brotherly Love

“I’d like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do.” ~ Mae West

Nearly two decades have passed since my last visit to Philadelphia, the former social and geographical center of the original thirteen colonies. What a marvelous city!

You’ve likely heard people call Philadelphia the city of “brotherly love,” for the city’s name derives from the Greek philos, meaning “love” and adelphos, meaning “brother.” It is an epicenter for early American history, yet rather than focus on the historical context, I’d prefer this morning to consider the value of brotherly love.

There is an old saying which goes something like this: “In union there is strength.” It does not matter if the agreement is founded in a constructive purpose or a destructive one, in union there is strength. This principle is the reason why we have good guys and sidekicks, villains and lackeys. In union there is strength.

The quality known as brotherly love conditions the unions you form, whether you are male or female. What is brotherly love? For starters, it is the spirit of service. When you function on the basis of brotherly love, you care for others and you are considerate of their needs. You look out for others. You help when they’re in a pinch. You reach out when they’re curled up, hiding from life. You give them a boost when they’re faced with an obstacle that they cannot overcome on their own.

I find it symbolic that Philadelphia occupied such a central role in the formative years of our Great Nation and I would encourage anyone interested in a meaningful, generative and fulfilling life to consider how a deeper understanding and application of the quality of brotherly love can be brought to bear on daily interactions with friends, family and enemies.

Your Relationship with Language

I had a friend many years ago who swore she recalled her first minutes out of the womb.  The bright lights, the movement, the suddenly unmuted sounds and the large creatures who made rhythmic noises to one another and in her direction all formed her first memories!  From the moment you emerged from the warmth and relative  safety of the womb, you likely encountered similar stimuli, all of which your body was marvelously capable of translating into an increasingly complex understanding of the world around you.

Mae West
Mae West once said: “I speak two languages, Body and English.”  Human communication is a remarkably rich field, worthy of individual exploration.  What you say, how you say what you say and what gestures and emotions you use to empower your words are all part of your unique expression.  Some emphasize quantity while others prefer to focus on quality of expression.  Either way, every word shapes the future and contributes to your legacy.

There seem to be two types of people: those who embrace language and those who put up with it by necessity.  Whether it is due to nature or nurture or a combination of the two, your relationship to language is what it is, and there is no better time than the present to make improvements.  If you’re already good, you can get better.  If you have been too afraid or embarrassed to address this area of your expression, have courage and take baby steps in the direction of greater eloquence and succinctness. 

There are tons of useful and free resources on the web that provide useful launch pads for your passionate study of language.  Here are just a few:

  1. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ (for men or women)
  2. http://www.dictionary.com
  3. http://www.virtualsalt.com/vocablst.htm
  4. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/vocabulary.htm
  5. http://www.openculture.com/2007/07/ten_podcasts_to_build_your_vocabulary.html