Human beings are human beings before they are lawyers, or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible human beings, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians.John Stuart Mill
Sometimes we seem to forget the basics, the idea of building a strong base before we build anything else. Overall, we’re not a society of base-builders any more. Rather, we tend to want people to become something very quickly, and in many situations we’re impatient with and intolerant of processes that don’t seem to be contributing directly to an immediate goal.
When I coach basketball, most of the players want to spend most of their time shooting. They all want to be scorers, and they all want to score a lot of points. They often don’t see the value of spending practice time working on dribbling and passing and ball handling, so they end up with poor skills in all of those fields. This leads to many turnovers during games, and inevitably to losing games. Those who do learn those skills hold on to the ball and are much more likely to create opportunities for scoring.
Life’s like that. We don’t run before we can walk, and we don’t walk before we can crawl. But crawling allows us to develop motor skills that will help us to walk, and months of practicing our walking allow us to start running. Likewise, years of teaching young people important lessons about morality and compassion and love and empathy and money management and trustworthiness can help that person to shine when he or she reaches the stage of being a professional. Those are the traits that will set him or her apart when people get to know them as human beings, not just as doctors or lawyers or police officers or administrative assistants.
Having a strong base also will provide these people with the fundamental qualities that can help them to recognize and feel happiness in their lives, which is possibly one of the best gifts we can give to anyone. People need patience to develop themselves, but we also need patience to teach them as they develop. Our patience can help them to become the people they were meant to be.
Questions to ponder:
1. What have you done lately to make yourself capable and sensible?
2. Why do we tend to be so strongly results-oriented?
3. Why is it hard for some of us to recognize, accept, and appreciate our humanity?
For further thought:
The structure of human betterment cannot be built upon foundations of materialism or business, but upon the bedrock of individual character in free men and women.
Herbert C. Hoover
Credit: Living Life Fully