COMMENTARY 795.1: I Just Talk to People

Marta was a hard-working single mother. When her minister sermonized about “living a life that matters,” she worried that working to raise her kids and going to church wasn’t enough. So, on the bus to work she made a list of other jobs she could do and volunteer work she could try.

Sylvia, an elderly woman, saw the worry on Marta’s face and asked what was wrong. Marta explained her problem. Sylvia said, “Oh my, did your minister say you weren’t doing enough?”

“No,” Marta said, “But I don’t know how to live ‘a life that matters’.”

“You don’t have to change jobs or do more volunteer work,” Sylvia consoled her. “It’s enough that you’re a good mother. But if you want to do more, think about what you can do while doing what you already do. It’s not about what you do, but how you do it.”

“You don’t understand,” Marta said. “I sell hamburgers. How do I make that significant?”

“How many people do you deal with every day?” Sylvia asked.

“Two to three hundred.”

“Well, what if you set out to cheer, encourage, teach or inspire as many of those people as you could? A compliment, a bit of advice, a cheerful hello or a warm smile can start a chain reaction that lights up lives like an endless string of Christmas bulbs.”

“But that’s just being nice,” Marta protested.

“Right,” said Sylvia, “Niceness can change lives.”

Marta looked at the old woman. “What do you do?”

“I was a housekeeper until I retired,” Sylvia said. “Now I just ride the bus talking to people.”

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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Comments 1

  1. What’s wrong with School sports? We’ve forgotten the genesis of or reason historically why sports/activities are in the schools. I teach PT at a university here and am the only one who even covers the reasons for its existence (to Teach Morals, Character and the American System of Achievement). Values, Character (manifested by sportsmanship, among others), sports were a way (a conscious choice by our society) to learn thru the schools those traits/values necessary to succeed in a competitive society (we’re the only nation that ties this area inherently to education in the world), and to do so properly/ethically, etc.. It has lost its depth systemically and our purpose needs to be proclaimed and followed as designed in early 1900’s – Interscholastic education is more than a recreational program – we are sustaining a way of life based upon the principles in which our country was founded – personal liberty, right to succeed or fail on our own merit, being responsible for my own being and sustenance. When you forget the past you forsake the future.

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