Tuesday, July 21, 2009

42) Values - (continued)

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of others." Cicero

One day on the streets of London, Charles H. Spurgeon was robbed. When he arrived home and reported the incident, he said: "We'll thank the Lord, anyway". His wife displeased that he had lost money, countered: "Thank the Lord that someone stole your purse?" "No, my dear", answered her husband, and went on to give her reasons why he was thankful. "First, I am thankful that the robber just took my purse, not my life. Second, I am thankful that most of our money was left at home, and he did not rob much. Third, I am thankful to God, that I was not the robber". To find gratitude in the heart when there is little to be thankful, uncovers the superior attitude of the person. To look at the bright side of the situation when apparently there is darkness and gloom, points to the pinnacle he has climbed. Little wonder that Cicero refers to gratitude as the parent of other virtues.

Saying 'thank you' is good, as long as it is not just words. Polite behavior is expected in society and 'thank you' is in order. But we have to go beyond the words,
to teach our children not to forget the good things they receive from a Loving and Merciful God, kind people and us, their parents. They should not take parents for granted. In old Anglo-Saxon, to be 'thankful' meant to be 'thinkful'. Thinking of one's blessings should stir one to gratitude. E.g.,children could think of the gift
of each new day, for sunshine and light, clean air to breathe, water, the comforts they enjoy, food they relish, entertainment they delight in, friendships that mean a lot to them, good music and good books and so on. Lessons on gratitude should start early, so that thankfulness becomes second nature. An ungrateful heart is despicable.
That is why Shakespeare wrote, rather forcefully: "I hate ingratitude more in man
than lying, vainess, babbling, drunkenness, or any taint of voice, whose strong corruption inhabits out blood". A fitting conclusion to this point would be a short prayer, written by George Herbert, which we and our children could offer to the Compassionate Lord: "O Thou who hast given us so much, mercifully grant us one more thing - a grateful heart".

"He who can have patience, can have what he will." Benjamin Franklin

No one treated Abraham Lincoln with more contempt than Edwin Staton, who condemned Lincoln's policies and called him 'a low cunning clown', and referring to his looks,
'the original gorilla'. Lincoln said or did nothing. He showed remarkable patience,
though as President of USA, he had the powers to hit back. In typically mature behavior, he made Staton his War Minister, because he believed that his adversary was the best man for the job; and always treated him with courtesy. Years wore on.
On the night Lincoln was assassinated, looking down at the rugged face of his dead
President, Staton said through tears: "There lies the greatest ruler of men, the world has ever seen". Patience had conquered hate. Wisdom won. Saint Augustine's words give us the right insight: "Patience is the companion of wisdom". The wise man is patient; experience confirms that.

Impatience is the sign of a fitful mind - fleeting from idea to idea, thing to thing,
unwilling to wait for fruition, angry with delays and blaming others. An impatient person is a spoke in the wheel of progress; because progress does not come at the pace we demand, but at its own pace. Ovid cautions us to be patient because "everything comes gradually, and at its appointed time". An impatient and angry person is a pathetic sight. A husband who claimed to love his wife dearly, broke two dozen eggs over her head and let the white and yellow of the eggs flow down her head, face and body, as she sat motionless, all because she skipped eggs for breakfast, after being instructed to have them. He demanded that his action be seen as an expression of love. We are inclined to disagree.

Children can act outrageously, in a fit of rage and throw tantrums to push parents into a state of panic. As parents we should know the potential danger in such situations and heal our children of their 'momentary madness'.

"To do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it." Plato

The student of a Management Professor, who was assigned to another Professor for a Project, complained that he was not happy with the way his Project was being directed
and concluded by saying: "Even if you give me 50% marks I will be happy, because I know I deserve only that. If he gives me 90% marks I will not be happy, because I know that he does not care and is not fair".

Trust comes from keeping promises and being fair. This is established through the
Four-Way-Test of a respected Organization: 1)Is it the truth? 2)Is it fair to all?
3)Will it build goodwill and better friendship? 4)Will it be beneficial to all concerned? When the four questions(all concerning fairness)are satisfactorily answered, we know with certitude that fair play will lead to the building of trust.
On the contrary, if selfishness and favoritism are given play, fairness loses out.
That was precisely the reason Plato labeled 'injustice' as a disgraceful act. The selfishness of King Louis XIV was inferred from a brief exchange between two of his subjects. When out hunting the King wore no gloves. One farmer pointed to the hands of the King and said: "His hands will be cold". The other farmer bandied: "His hands will not be cold because they are in our pockets". With the King exploiting his subjects through heavy taxes, they passed judgment on him - he was not a fair king.

Are we parents fair in our parenting? When we show preference for one child over the other/s, we deal a deadly blow to fair play in the family. When a father distributes
among his children, pads , pens, pencils pilfered from his office, he is not setting an example of fair play, but showing his children how to cheat and exploit unsuspecting superiors. In such a home fair play has little chance.

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