Any Nellies in Your Life?

I'll never forget how I learned the lesson to love my neighbor as myself. It all started when I was in the third grade in school. Ours was just a small school with only about thirty students to a grade, so we all knew each other. Then a new girl named Nellie moved in. She was a very poor girl, and it wasn't long before some of my friends and I decided she was a good target for our fun and ridicule.

We laughed and made fun of her because she didn't dress nicely and her hair was often uncombed. We even composed a poem making fun of her, and one day at recess we went out on the playground and started chanting it loudly. I remember our teacher called us in and told us we were not being very kind to this girl and that she needed our help and love. But I'm afraid it didn't do much good. We cut out the chants, but we certainly didn't become friendly.

To make matters worse, I rode the same school bus with this girl, and it seemed she was so desperately in need of a friend that even though I'd been unkind to her she still wanted to sit with me. I would always just ignore her.

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The Logic of Life
February 26, 1977

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