[Anne] no longer wished to be a person of quality, if by that word was meant a view from immense height upon an inferior humanity. Perhaps she would never cease to be an elitist, she thought, but it would be an elite of the merciful, the lovers of song and story, of children, of beauty, and of truth.
Precisely how that was to be defined and, further, how it was to be transmitted to her children was another matter. There was the immediate question of Ashley and that mind of his, so hungry for ideas. She knew that the fields and forest would teach him a wisdom that no city child could possess. But there was more to life, and she was determined to winnow it out for him. She saved her egg money and ordered volumes of books…
“Mama,” he laughed, looking up from [Gulliver’s Travels] “did you know there are people who start wars over whether you should cut your egg at the top end or the bottom end?”
“Yes, Ashley, I did know,” she smiled.
When he was twelve it The Scottish Chiefs. When he was thirteen and beginning to ask difficult questions about intangible things, she bestowed a copy of Les Miserables.
“Mum,” he said with a voice that was leaving childhood behind, “d’you think there are actually people who hate just for the sake of hating?”
“Yes. I do. I’ve met them. But the point is, Ashley, they don’t realize it. They think they’re improving the world.”
“I find that kind of hard to believe.”
“You will meet many such people in your life. They are sad and tragic. You would do well to avoid them at all costs.”
Stephen [the man] looked up from his old Irish poetry book and said, “There’s another way.”
“What way?” said the boy and the woman in unison.
“Treat them with mercy, but never let them have any power over your heart.”
~from Strangers and Sojourners, by Michael O’Brien, Part 2, Chapter 2