Resolve To Be Tender with the Young and Compassionate with the Aged

Gautama Buddha? Walter Scott? Lloyd Shearer? George Washington Carver? Dale Turner? Ann Landers? Bob Goddard? Anonymous?

striving09Dear Quote Investigator: The end of the year is fast approaching and some of your readers may be thinking about formulating New Year’s resolutions. I have heard a heartfelt resolution that encouraged one to be “compassionate with the aged”, “sympathetic with the striving”, and “tolerant of the weak”. The words were attributed to the Buddha, but the phrasing sounded modern. Would you please explore this statement?

Quote Investigator: “Parade Magazine” is a mass-circulation supplement that is packaged with Sunday newspapers in the U.S. On December 30, 1973 the front page of the magazine presented a set of ten resolutions which included the following four. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Avoid zealots. They are generally humorless.

Resolve to listen more and to talk less. No one ever learns anything by talking.

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.

Resolve to love next year someone you didn’t love this year. Love is the most enriching ingredient of life.

The copyright notice at the bottom of the page listed “Walter Scott” which was a pen name of the long-time gossip columnist Lloyd Shearer. QI believes Shearer assembled the resolutions and should be credited with crafting the full expression listed in bold. QI also notes that some sub-phrases have been employed by other writers in the past.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

An example of a sub-phrase that was already in circulation was printed in several newspapers in 1920. The positive qualities of the “Red Cross” organization were presented in a passage using a literary technique called personification. The phrase “compassionate of the aged” was included: 2

My interest is in the welfare of the community. I ease the way of the cripple. I am compassionate of the aged. My exultation is in the strength of mankind. I teach. I lead. I serve.

On December 30, 1973 “Parade Magazine” printed the resolutions as mentioned previously.

On January 11, 1974 a newspaper columnist in Lubbock, Texas noticed the resolutions and reprinted the set with the following introductory words acknowledging Walter Scott: 3

Since the New Year has just begun and most of us have already smudged our resolutions, we thought a look at another set might be in order. Credited to one Walter Scott, here they are: . . .

The resolution being traced was printed with slightly altered phrasing: “tolerant of the weak” was changed to “tolerant with the weak”:

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.

In July 1974 a health care facility in Van Wert, Ohio published an advertisement in the city newspaper that reprinted the resolutions. The introductory words credited Walter Scott and specified the year 1973. 4

We are past the half way point of the year 1974. Maybe it’s time to study again the resolutions we made at the beginning of the year. If you made none, we would like to share the following with you taken from the writing of Walter Scott, Copyright 1973.

In 1982 a columnist in Bloomington, Illinois described an advertisement that included a quotation attributed to the scientist and inventor George Washington Carver.

The expression closely matched the one under examination, but the word “resolve” was absent. A different prefatory phrase was employed: “How far you go in life depends on your being”. In addition, the phrase “weak and the wrong” was changed to “weak and the strong”: 5

The full-page ad in my newspaper, paid for by Norton Simon Inc., welcomed delegates to the annual conference of the National Urban League. Most of the page was devoted to just a few words from George Washington Carver:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

In 1985 the long-time religion columnist Reverend Dale Turner of “The Seattle Times” in Washington published an instance of the saying. The phrase “tolerant of the weak and the wrong” was changed to “tolerant with the weak and erring”. No attribution was given: 6

The fact that we all stand in need of patience makes it highly apparent that we should show it to others. It is wisdom and common sense to resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, tolerant with the weak and erring, for sometime in life, we will have been all of these.

In 1986 the famous advice columnist Ann Landers printed a letter from a reader about the set of resolutions. The reader did not know who created the resolutions, and Landers reprinted them without attribution: 7

Dear Ann Landers: I found this in my father’s desk drawer. He passed away recently (at the age of 70) and Mom gave me his desk for my birthday.

I have no idea who wrote these “resolutions” but they are full of good sense. I’ll be watching the Detroit Free Press to see if you agree. — R.G.L.

Dear R.G.L.: I do, indeed. Here they are. Thanks for sharing.

In 1997 “Quotable Quotes: Wit & Wisdom for Every Occasion” from the editors of “The Reader’s Digest” was published. The saying was included with an ascription to someone named Bob Goddard. Based on a fragment of text visible in the Google Books database it is possible that Goddard worked at the “St. Louis Globe-Democrat”, and he reprinted the saying, but this is conjectural. 8

Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant with the weak and the wrong. Sometime in life you will have been all of these.
—BOB GODDARD

In 2013 the “Pakistan Observer” based in Islamabad, Pakistan published an article with an instance attributed to the Buddha: 9

To quote Lord Buddha’s message to his followers “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in your life, you will have been all of these”.

In conclusion, based on current evidence QI would ascribe the saying to Lloyd Shearer. Evidence supporting alternative ascriptions is very weak and appeared after the 1973 publication date.

Image Notes: Picture of baby from jelly at Pixabay. Picture of swimmer from tpsdave at Pixabay. Picture of elderly man from terimakasih0 at Pixabay. Images have been cropped and resized.

(Great thanks to Hyon S Chu whose query led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)

Notes:

  1. 1973 December 30, The Sun-Telegram: Serving the Inland Empire (The San Bernardino County Sun), Section: Parade Magazine (Sunday newspaper supplement from Parade Publications, Inc., New York), (Ten resolutions were printed on the cover of Parade Magazine; the copyright notice named “Walter Scott”, the pen name of Lloyd Shearer), Quote Page 1, San Bernardino, California. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1920 November 5, Durant Weekly News, The Red Cross of Peace, Quote Page 3, Column 4, Durant, Oklahoma. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1974 January 11, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Don’t Sell Us Short by Jay Harris, Quote Page 4A, Column 5, Lubbock, Texas. (NewspaperArchive)
  4. 1974 July 16, The Times-Bulletin (Van Wert Times-Bulletin), (Advertisement for Van Wert Manor in Van Wert, Ohio), Quote Page 8, Column 1, Van Wert, Ohio. (NewspaperArchive)
  5. 1982 October 3, The Sunday Pantagraph (The Pantagraph), Liberated Male: G. W. Carver knew value of sympathy by Jim Sanderson, Quote Page D6, Column 4, Bloomington, Illinois. (Newspapers_com)
  6. 1985 August 17, The Seattle Times, Section: Religion, Have Patience – It Is a Human Virtue that Walks Hand in Hand with Tolerance by Rev. Dale Turner, Quote Page A10, Seattle, Washington. (NewsBank Access World News)
  7. 1986 June 21, Rockford Register Star, Resolutions offer some sound advice by Ann Landers, Quote Page 2B, Column 1, Rockford, Illinois. (GenealogyBank)
  8. 1997, Quotable Quotes: Wit & Wisdom for Every Occasion by the Editors of Reader’s Digest, Section: A Little Kindness, Unnumbered Page, Readers Digest, New York. (Google Books Preview)
  9. Date: 2013 October 3, News Source: Pakistan Observer, Volume: XXIV, Issue: 333 Article: Buddhists put Gautam Buddha in shame, Provided By: Asianet-Pakistan, News Source Location: Islamabad, Pakistan. (NewsBank Access World News).