Monday, November 23, 2015

Reflecting on Instability

The Mystery within
“Yet it is the law of all progress that is made by passing through some stages of instability and that may take a very long time.”  From Trust in the Slow Work of God by Teilhard de Chardin

Instability is with us in dysfunctional politics, families, neighborhoods, and worldwide terrorism.  Each of us has a role in helping stabilize dysfunction and leading us to become more whole human beings.  In my November 18, 2013 blog post titled, “So Who Are We?” I cite a study from the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson’s book The NeighborhoodProject—Using Evolution to Improve My City One Block at a Time.

Wilson cites a first grade teacher who taught for thirty-four years and whose students were followed into adulthood measuring grade of education completed, occupational attainment, and condition of their home.  Sixty-four percent of her students scored in the highest category compared with only 29 percent of students of other teachers.  When the other teachers were asked how this teacher taught they said with a lot of love, confidence in her children, vowing no child would leave her class without being able to read, staying after school to help struggling students, and sharing her lunch with children who forgot theirs.  Wilson says gardeners would understand these stunning results since they “…know that a small difference in how the seedlings are tended can make huge difference in their yield at the end of the season.”

We can’t all be outstanding first grade teachers but we can all be gardeners by reflecting throughout each day on the many ways we can positively react with those who we encounter.  When we bump into unpleasantness, be curious about the other instead of offended.  Work at respecting diversity.  Catch someone doing something right and praise him or her.  Smile more.  Give an inconsiderate driver a pass.  Thank someone for a kindness.  What more can you add to the list?   

What if we began each day asking how can I make someone else’s day?

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