The Radical Practice of Loving Everyone by Michael J. Chase

The first thing I loved about this book when I unpacked it from its envelope was the format. It’s such a sweet little book. And on its cover a dog is smiling right into your face. I loved it from the first look. And that is rare. I cannot remember having had that experience before. So it’s a special book for me.

Michael is telling the story of his dog Mollie and most of all how she is approaching life, people and the world around her. He wanted to write a book about loving everyone and felt stuck in not knowing somebody who lived like that and who he could refer to. One night when Mollie wakes him up by licking his face it strikes him that she is the one that is loving everyone and that the book should be about her. He then goes on a journey of watching her in everyday life very closely and by doing that he goes on his own journey of learning to love everyone.

Watching Mollie he quickly learns that she judges no one and approaches everyone and every situation with curiosity and a wagging tail. At the same time he often realises that although he is trying not to he still judges people often unconsciously. By watching Mollie he also watches his own behaviour in a lot of situations and that enables him to change. When he gets stuck in a behaviour he calls his buddhist friend who helps out with some buddhist teachings that I also found helpful.

What I like about the book is the honesty and openness with which Michael writes about his everyday life and the struggles he faces emotionally and how he tries to overcome them by learning new behaviours. It is really a story about the adventure of him living with Mollie. It is beautifully written. There’s a lot to laugh about as always when you’re telling stories about living with a dog. I have one of my own. So I know. Michael also talks about his work with The Kindness Center that he and his wife Cara established together and which I find incredibly great.

For me the most insightful passage was about a school event that Michael had been speaking at and that left him feeling rather bad because of some kids that had started behaving disrespectful when he was telling about the suicide of his dad. Days after the event when he was walking Mollie a young man approached him telling him that he was sorry for the kid’s behaviour and that he was grateful for what he had said and that it had meant a lot to him. When asked why, he said that his uncle had committed suicide and when Michael spoke about his dad the young man had felt that there was somebody standing there who knew exactly how he felt. In this moment Michael understood that it is not necessary to make a connection with every kid in the room . When he reaches one of them he has made a difference.

For me reading this passage has made a real difference and it left me with tears streaming down my face. Why? I often thought, how can I make a difference in the world when I only reach one person or a few or if I only can give one animal a home or a few. Reading this has taken a whole lot of pressure of me and I understood that for the one person that I talk to and the one animal that finds a loving home at my house I do make a difference. And looking at my life from where I am now I can see that I already have made a difference to more than one person and more than one animal. Thank you, Michael, for showing me that. I am really grateful for that insight.

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