“Anyway” you look at it…


“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith © Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Epiphanies can happen in the oddest places.

I was in the bathroom of my friend Alexis’ classroom today, and as I was washing my hands, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the mirror.  As I read the copy,  I actually felt myself becoming wiser! Well, maybe that’s a bit much for the bathroom of a portable classroom at an elementary school, but reading the page gave me chills.

The words on the page are quoted above. The author, Kent M. Keith, created these ‘commandments’ when he was only 19, a sophomore at Harvard. He was working on a  booklet for high school Student Councils.  It looks to me like he covered how to lead a meaningful life in 10 easy (or not so easy, depending on one’s degree of humane development) lessons!

This piece needs no analysis or evaluation on my part. The genius is in its truth and simplicity.  Just read it and let it bounce around your brain and heart for a few minutes. Then let me know what you think. As for me? I think I’ll print it up and tape it to my bathroom mirror.

As an added bonus?  Reading this takes about as much time as singing Happy Birthday (one of the ‘how long you wash your hands’ suggestions).  A much more evolved way to spend your hand-washing time.  So there you have it–grow as a person AND eliminate H1N1!  Two for the price of one (you’re welcome).

Thanks, Alexis!

Peace, friends.

For more on Kent M. Keith, visit:  http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com

A World that Supports Everyone


will the circle be unbroken?

(graphic: UNICEF)

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”

-Hafsat Abiola

I love the second sentence of that quote. I keep reading it over and thinking of ways that we do, and don’t, secure space for others to contribute. Either way, it can take just a small act to do either. See if any of these ring true (and when I say ‘you’ in this essay, I don’t mean YOU, fine reader–it just makes for a smoother read than the impersonal “one”):

NOT securing space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that *  pick an -ism. Sexism, racism, age-ism, class-ism, partisan-ism. ANY sentence that begins, “I’m not prejudiced, but….”

* stealing the credit for someone else’s idea at work or school.

* allowing competitiveness to overshadow your efforts or those of others. The end doesn’t always justify the means, especially if the “end” you’re aiming for is attention/praise/accolades  for yourself.

* dominating class discussions, dinner table conversations, happy hour banter,  and meetings with your own discourse while no one else can get a word in and be heard.

* wondering why all those earthquake victims have to come to “our” country.

* name-calling and put-downs of any kind.

Looking back on what I just typed, I see that the above examples would actually be detrimental to both parts of the opening quote–anyone who’s perpetrating any of the above is sabotaging self as well as others’ abilities to contribute the best that they have.  Just goes to prove: what you do for others, you do for yourself as well. What you do TO others, same story. If you stomp on others to get to your perceived “top,” whatever that may be, being on top will be pretty bleak (and no doubt very lonely) indeed.

So. How can we contribute the best that we have toward creating a world that supports everyone? And how can we secure space for others to do the same?

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