Army Specialist Lisa Ling and Sergeant Michelle Sikes were members of the same supply company for four years. While Sergeant Sikes was conducting her quarterly inventory of the unit’s equipment, Specialist Ling came to Sergeant Sikes with a question.
“Sarge, the four years I’ve known you, I’ve never, ever heard you say anything mean or unkind about anyone. Is it okay if I ask why that is?”
“Sure,” she responded. Sergeant Sikes went over to her desk behind the Supply Room counter then opened a drawer. In the drawer was a miniature loving cup. On the bottom of the small six inch plastic cup was printed in what appeared to be handwritten capital letters “LOVING”.
“My grandma gave this to me when I was a little girl. She told me that what a person says about another person can be hurtful and it can damage a person too. How would I feel if someone said something hurtful to or about me? What my grandma said did happen to me and it hurt a lot—it made me cry. It was especially hurtful when what was said was not true. Grandma is gone now but whenever I feel as though I want to say anything hurtful towards someone, I have my grandma’s loving cup to remind me to avoid doing so.”
Later that day, Specialist Ling bought a little plastic loving cup. When she arrived at her barracks that evening, she printed the word “LOVING” on a sticky tag then affixed it to the cup. Unlike Sergeant Sikes, Specialist Ling placed her cup in her handbag to remind her that words can hurt others when done so out of anger, envy or hatred.