EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT
During Mark's first month of college, the professor gave his students a pop quiz. He was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until he read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. He had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would he know her name? He handed in his paper, leaving the last question blank.
Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the quiz grade.
"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They each deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'".
Mark never forgot that lesson. He also learned her name was Dorothy.
BAD BY NAME; BAD BY NATURE ?
During Nelson Mandela's 19 years imprisoned on Robben Island, one particular commanding officer was the most brutal of them all:
"A few days before Badenhorst's departure, I was called to the main office. General Steyn was visiting the island and wanted to know if we had any complaints. Badenhorst was there as I went through a list of demands. When I had finished, Badenhorst spoke to me directly.
He told me he would be leaving the island and added: 'I just want to wish you people good luck'. I do not know if I looked dumbfounded, but I was amazed. He spoke these words like a human being and showed a side of himself we had never seen before. I thanked him for his good wishes and wished him luck in his endeavours.
I thought about this moment for a long time afterwards. Badenhorst had perhaps been the most callous and barbaric commanding officer we had had on Robben Island. But that day in the office, he had revealed that that there was another side to his nature, a side that had been obscured but still existed.
It was a useful reminder that all men, even the most seemingly cold-blooded, have a core of decency and that, if their hearts are touched, they are capable of changing. Ultimately, Badenhorst was not evil; his inhumanity had been foisted upon him by an inhuman system.
He behaved like a brute because he was rewarded for brutish behaviour."
Source: "Long Walk To Fredom" by Nelson Mandela
THE OBSTACLE IN OUR PATH
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.
After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
The peasant learned what many of us never understand !
Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
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