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The Paradoxical Commandments

"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 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 with biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men 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."

You have no doubt heard these words. They were most likely presented as a poem titled “Anyway” and attributed to Mother Theresa. These words aptly describe the heart of a saint, and you would expect Mother Theresa or someone of her spiritual stature to pen such words. It is, after all, comfortable to attribute great things to great people. The danger is we can easily make less of ourselves and invite ourselves to relax comfortably in our seat of complacency thinking we are not great and wondering what we could possibly accomplish anyway. Doubts grow and the seat becomes softer, and so we sit in our easy chair and conform…

We don't have to. We may be small, by ourselves, like a tiny seed. What can we possibly accomplish?

A seed never planted will never grow.

Mother Theresa did not write those words. She had them on her wall as many of us do. They were planted in 1968 during troubled times when the youth of America were questioning everything, and the world seemed upside down. They sprouted as young leaders who wanted to do good and change the world sought to plant their seeds even though the soil seemed harsh and unyielding.

In 1968, a 19 year old college student at Harvard wanted to inspire young people to become leaders. Kent M. Keith saw hatred and frustration all around. He felt the same burning questions as everyone around him, but he did not want to fight, not in a war, not against a war, not against the establishment, but against hate and against complacency. He knew it was impossible, but wanted to try to do some good anyway, so he wrote a handbook for young leaders entitled, The Silent Revolution.

In the second chapter, titled “Brotherly What?,” he wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments,” which you just read. He wrote them as a challenge and added, “The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don’t appreciate it. You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don’t, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done.”

So don’t let the fact that you’re not a giant of faith keep you from planting seeds. Plant them anyway.

It may not grow; plant it anyway.

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