The American journalist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) once said of hospitality: “It is the virtue which induces us to feed and lodge certain persons who are not in need of food or lodging.” Here in our part of the country we are known for good “Southern Hospitality,” which is a manifestation of that virtue, which means friendly, warm and gracious treatment of those who are peace loving and come into our lives. However, there is a difference in just being kind, friendly and courteous to those who cross our paths each day from those we invite to come into our home to enjoy a good meal and, on occasion, to spend the night.
The frame of reference that I have been talking about is when we encounter others on a personal basis. There is another dimension that may be even more important, and that is the negative influences of others we allow to enter our minds. When it comes to this dimension, here is an important question that I would like to pose to you. “Whom do you invite in?” Are you selective in who you invite into your mind on a day-by-day basis, or do you permit just any person who comes along to have access to your mind, the great gift that God has given you, yours being unlike any other person in the world?
It has been said that “Our eyes are the windows of our soul.” This means that everything we see with our eyes has a deep and lasting effect on the deeper levels of our very existence. In this respect, if you will give some thought to the kind of books you read, the kind and quality of the television programs you watch, the kind of people you spend your free time with, you will have a good idea why you are doing well or not doing so well. In dealing with thousands of people over the years, I have found that many of them do not believe or understand this simple concept. The truth is, we are the “Captains of our Soul,” and our future for the most part will be determined by the quality of the ideas and information that we “see” and permit to enter our minds.
Sometime back I ran across an article in the Rotarian written by Grayson Kirk titled “Four Marks of an Educated Person.” It is the kind of thinking that encourages me and I hope it does you as well.
It begins: “No. 1 -- The educated person speaks and writes clearly and precisely, no matter how much information he may have stored away in his brain. A person is not educated until he learns to use his mother tongue with grace, precision and clarity. No. 2 -- The educated person has a set of values and the courage to defend them. Knowledge and experience have given him the capacity to discriminate not only between right and wrong, but also between the trivial and the significant, between that which is cheap and that which has integrity.
No. 3 -- The educated person tries to understand his society and how it differs from others. He views these differences with compassion and respect, where the uneducated man sees them as evidence of his own superiority, regarding the customs of other with condensation or contempt. No. 4 -- The educated person looks squarely at the world and all its problems, but always with hope. He neither fears nor rejects the trials and tribulations of modern life, but accepts as his responsibility the task of making order out of complexity and opportunity out of danger.”
Thanks Mr. Kirk - that was good and should give all of us something to think about.