We Are All One

Dear Readers, it has been a hiatus of many months since I posted a blog of my own on this site. After spending a lot of time soul searching and listening to words of encouragement from my wife and close friends, I have decided to return to my blogging roots and resurrect the series of blogs I called “My Inspiration.”

Today’s post focuses on the inspirational words of Maya Angelou who was one of America’s most influential people and continues to move us to search our hearts with her immortal words.

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

Maya Angelou

The element of Maya Angelou’s writings that always strikes me is her innate humility. In the first line, “it seems to me” she makes it clear that all she wants to do is share personal thoughts instead of preaching a truth that we must accept. Immediately, my mind opens wide to what follows and I read on in anticipation. This gives me pause. Do I invite people to share in my thinking or am I sounding more like the booming gong and clanging cymbal in St. Paul’s epistle about love?

In her next breath, Ms Angelou encourages us to prepare ourselves to be “a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Many of us, I think, associate preparedness for a test or for success that benefits us in some way. How often are we asked to prepare ourselves in order to serve others? She makes it very clear that we should be a source of brightness and joy in the life of another person who is in the shadow of some personal trouble.

As I turn that idea over in my mind, I wonder how one prepares for that kind of service. Cultivating a point of view that looks outward beyond my own wants and needs towards others would be a good start. I need to develop genuine empathy so that I can recognize another’s need. As well, I need to shed any negativity about life that I’ve accumulated along my own journey, and be a hopeful person who looks for the goodness in others.

This kind of personal growth is no small task, in my view! Perhaps for some, being a beacon of light for others is as simple as rolling out of bed in the morning. Regardless, I agree with Maya Angelou that every human being should strive to serve with no expectation of reward from the world around us. From my own experience, the times when I have helped someone to smile, the warm inner glow I felt was reward enough.

In the last few lines, Angelou addresses the things that divide humans: race, gender, religion, and culture among other things. For her, our shared humanity is paramount. There is nothing more important than reaching out to all persons we contact, not just the ones who share the same identifiers with ourselves.

I remember reading an article that discussed the traits that are shared in common by all humans. As I read about our shared physicality, physical needs, psychological needs which drive us, and our common spiritual yearnings, I was struck by the triviality of the things that we allow to divide us. The resulting intolerance and fear of our noticeable differences precipitate conflict and warfare among us.

I believe that Maya Angelou was a visionary. She saw and experienced great ugliness in her life yet chose to live a better way. This realization on my part leads me to better appreciate our freedom to choose. We can decide for ourselves to serve others or be selfish. Do we choose to dwell on the ugliness in this world or to live joyfully in gratitude for the beauty in our world and within every human being?

Thank you, Maya Angelou. I’d also like to thank my good friend, Jill Dennison, who blogs each week at Filosofa’s Word about people who have chosen to follow the path made clear in this quote and reach out with kindness to strangers in need who are in their midst. Thanks, Jill, for these uplifting examples of how ordinary folks can work miracles in the lives of others!

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What the World Needs Now… Respect

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

In my last post in this series, “Let Us Change the World!”, I reflected upon the role of education in bringing about positive change in the world through a quote by Nelson Mandela. His words were spoken in the context of a speech he made to students in Boston in 1990 to encourage them to remain in school and help transform the world into a better place. Continue reading “What the World Needs Now… Respect”

Let Us Change The World!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

~ Nelson Mandela

Courage and hope are greatly admired human attributes that were featured in the last post in this series, “Hope… Is It Enough?” It was inspired by words spoken by the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama when she urged young South African women leaders to give voice and form to these attributes because they will be caught and spread. Continue reading “Let Us Change The World!”

Hope… Is It Enough?

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” ~ Michelle Obama, 2011

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

~ Michelle Obama

It may be an understatement that we live in very troubled times. I know from my study of history and my daily history blog, “John’s Believe It Or Not,” that every era has had its troubles, yet the present seems especially fearful. The fact that the leader of the free world exacerbates the issues plaguing humanity gives one pause. How can there be hope for progress and a better future when a narcissistic megalomaniac has been allowed to run amok in the White House? Continue reading “Hope… Is It Enough?”

The Price of Silence

Martin Luther King Jr. Donald Trump. Charlottesville Protest. Silence in the face of evil. Responsibilities of citizens

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

In an earlier post, “Indifference Is the Enemy”I reflected upon the issues of love, hate, and indifference. The quote above, by Martin Luther King Jr., is focused on the same idea. These words are relevant at any time, in any age, but they have taken on a new urgency today. Continue reading “The Price of Silence”

How Best To Define “Youth”?

Poem: Youth by Samuel Ullmann. Is my youth gone forever? Youth is a state of mind. Youthful dreams are fresh and exciting. I am a work in progress.

Typically, when writing posts in this series, I begin with a quote and then speculate about its meaning. But today I’ll present both of these aspects differently. Having reached that exalted threshold of senior citizenship, I must admit to experiencing many more aches, pains, and physical restrictions than I did even ten years ago. As a kid, I often wondered why older people always seemed cranky and had frowns or scowls on their faces. Now I understand – getting older means a lot of physical discomforts, so what’s to smile about? Continue reading “How Best To Define “Youth”?”

What Is A True Friend?

(Image: Courtesy of Pixabay)

“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.”
~ Aristotle

“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
~ Aristotle

Friendship is a reality that is tied to our need to be loved. Part of our socialization experience is to seek out friends that bring us many things within our comfort zone. In my last post, Anger: Is It Good?, I explored this powerful emotion which sometimes plays a part in the development and/or the breakdown of our friendships. In this post, I intend to explore the nature of that special friendship, the true friend, with the assistance of the great Greek thinker, Aristotle. Continue reading “What Is A True Friend?”