Sunday, February 22, 2009
Truth, Death, Unity and Classroom Cataract Surgery
Because of my book, I was invited to give the keynote address to the University of Guam during their faculty development day on Friday. I just shared some thoughts that were on my mind. I think in some way, the points I raised had to do with some of the anchoring principles of my life. It was also an opportunity for me to try out some of the stand-up comedy material I had been working on, and most of the jokes got laughs. Here were my key points.
1. "Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all the worlds of God are impossible for any soul." Before I really started to think about this principle in my own life, I used to "fib" so much to avoid embarrassment or to stay out of trouble. Being committed to total truthfulness required me to change the way I did a lot of things, but it was a liberating process. It's a pain, and I feel I sell out pretty easily at times. But it's still one of the key principles that I think everyone can benefit from.
2. We're all gonna die. Really. Remaining conscious of this truth on a daily basis helps lend clarity to life. This can be done by bringing oneself to account each day. "Bring thyself to account each day, ere though art summoned to a reckoning, for death unheralded shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds."
3. The motto of UOG is "Unity in Diversity." Unity requires that as individuals we refrain from faultfinding. The process of higher education gears us toward "critical analysis" which makes faultfinding a natural way of life. Faultfinding is an intellectual activity that is quarantined to one's mind. But the real problems arise when we mention the faults of others -- when faultfinding moves to backbiting. It's endemic in our culture, and there is a need to establish "no backbiting zones" around our mouths, and even our ears, so we don't participate in this corrosive force.
4. Cataract surgery brings vision. Teaching brings vision.
The faculty were appreciative of having a speaker who wasn't there with charts and numbers, and as someone said, "we're all human, and it's nice to remember that at times."