Copyright © Louis Schmier
Date: Fri 6/22/2007 3:16 AM
Thinking of the words those two students wrote, I know that the guiding light of our teaching should be to spread an aura of goodness, to help others become better persons rather than merely more informed or more skilled wage earners we call professionals or otherwise. That’s the stuff of which making a significant difference is made.
I am convinced that those who can and do make a difference are not just the particularly special Mahatma Ghandis, chosen Maria Teresas, select Nelson Mandelas, or extraordinary Martin Luther Kings. Each person can make a difference if she or he cultivates two intertwined and inseparable inherent human “soul-like” qualities and capacities that lie latent within each of us, which allow each of us to experience a sense of compassion and beauty and sacredness of those and things around us.
As I just told someone, the first quality is a courage that comes from following a purpose that goes beyond personal concerns. Courage is, to paraphrase James Allen, a drawing of strength from both cherished ideals that beats in our heart and what Peter Senge calls a reflective and articulated “personal vision” of what we want to create of ourselves; it is a loveliness, a tenderness, a kindness, and lovingness that drapes each of our thoughts and feelings; it gives meaning to a person’s actions; it is an unrelenting commitment to doing what is right and when our integrity will not allow us to take any other path. It is powerful and demanding, but reachable truth and purpose put into action. The second capacity is attentiveness to the needs of others. The sin of not be attentive, not being unremittingly aware, alert, or awake, is the sin, as Joseph Campbell once said, of missing and not making use of the only thing that is truly ours: the present moment of life.
Writing as a practioner and not as a theorist, I can assure you that as you demonstrate courage with attentiveness of, empathy toward, and patience with others. you will find yourself walking inexorably down what I call a path of “do thats”: Do that and everything which passes so quickly in a blur will ever slow down and be sharp; do that and you’ll hear what the daily breezes and constant whispers have to tell; do that and you'll acquire a sense of indestructible wonder at how startling life is; do that and you'll see the sacredness in each person; do that and you'll see the whole future in one person; do that and everyday, you'll think as you wake up that you are fortunate to have woken up, that you are alive, that you are a precious human life, that you’re not going to waste it, that you’re going to use all your energies to develop yourself to expand your heart out to others for their and your benefit; do that and you'll see with open eyes and an open heart; do that and you take notice of the unnoticed; do that and you'll do everything that needs to be done to do all the good that you can do from where you are and with what you have; do that and you'll fill each day with your gifts of love and kindness; do that and you'll the experience the real joy of being fully engaged in whatever you're doing; do that and difficulties will disappear and obstacles will vanish into the thin air; do that and you'll see the face of meaningfulness; do that you’ll blow away the dark and blinding fog of despairing tiredness, regrets, frustrations, sadnesses, worries, anxieties, complaints, jaded boredom, angers, and resentments; do that and you’ll enter wholly and make loving use of this day, feel a rich texture and fullness of life, have a peaceful heart, and exercise a clear mind; do all that and you’ll opportunities opening up to make a difference in someone’s life and change the world.
Trust me. All that “do that-ing” is tough. It’s demanding. It gives a lot of headaches. It offers huge challenges. It requires a lot of emotional and physical strength. It takes a lot of work and demands a lot of time. It asks for sacrifice. It even creates a lot of pain and agony. But, if you think of the effort as purposeful and wonderful, and if you feel it as purposeful and wonderful, it will transform what others might ordinarily see as a heavy and laborious burden into a continuous stream of fired energy of joy and meaning that will pour from your soul.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History www.therandomthoughts.com Valdosta State University www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~\ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~\/ \ /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" - \____