Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Tue 9/9/2003 4:34 AM
Random Thought: Doing Well and Doing Good

I was driving home late last Saturday night on I-75. No one to talk with. Susan literally had fallen into a deep sleep before we got out of the hotel parking lot. Thank goodness for our energy drinks and some stirring words I heard at a business meeting in Ocala. Something someone said kept churning inside and keeping me from being mesmerized by the boring ribbon of concrete and the hypnotic rhythm of the approaching headlights. My mind was racing as fast as the car. Try I struggled to figure out what it was, I couldn't put my finger on it. It didn't begin to become apparent until I was almost on the exit ramp at Valdosta. It was still too vague. Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday afternoon as I had coffee with some colleagues whom I deeply admire. And, an obituary written by Richard Cohen into today's WASHINGTON POST, made it all so crystal clear.

We all want to succeed. We all want to get that appointment; we all want to get that promotion; we all want to get that tenure; we all want to get that research grant; we all want to get that raise; we all want to get that publication; we all want to get that recognition; we all want to get that reputation; we all want to get that .....

We all want to live well; we all want to do well. But, if we don't do good as well, well, what good is all that living and doing well? I have found that all that getting and all that living well and all that doing well, will never be good enough. Doing well puts the focus on our ambition, on our self-interest, on the confines of the classroom, on the limits of the subject matter, and on making a living. And, if we're not careful, doing well can make us into what I call "short lookers" and "short hearers."

These colleagues are intent on doing good--truly doing good. They know that doing good focuses our vision beyond ourselves, on the needs and interests of others, beyond the boundaries of classroom and subject, and on having a good life. They may not put it into these words, but they know that doing good can make us into what I call "long see-ers" and "long listeners."

By coincidence, sometimes you don't ask, Richard Cohen's obituary column of his father appeared in today's WASHINGTON POST. I copied bits and pieces of it. He wrote about his father, "He was the most ordinary of men--but God, I have known few like him and neither have you....he was a good man. Not once--not ever--did I know him to cheat: not in business, not on his wife, not on his friends and never on his children....The great men I have spent a lifetime around--the politicians, the statesmen, the rich, the powerful, the creative--can make no such claim. They always say they had to break some eggs to make their omelet. My father made no omelet. But he broke no eggs, either....He had his dreams, but the overriding one was to lead an honorable life....He did not set standards, he lived them....He was, I tell you, the most extraordinary of ordinary men, what in Yiddish is called a 'mensch'---not a great man but, much rarer still, a good one. There is nothing greater."

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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