Please indulge me as I drop the pretense of the distant third-person narrator in this closing section and speak with you, author to reader, person to person.
At the time of writing this, I have been a teacher long enough that many of my students have graduated, found jobs, and re-connected with me years after they sat in my class. I have had the joy of taking them out for coffee to catch up.
Every so often, one of them will relate how something I said or did in class resonated with them, changed their outlook and altered how they approached life. Whenever I hear this, my first thought is some version of, “Holy cow, if I thought any of my students were listening to me, I’d pay attention to what I was saying!”
You see, when I look at my class, a sea of bored faces often greets me. When that listless wall of boredom looms in front of me, it is easy to think that nothing I am doing is having any impact.
Those stories over coffee, however, show me that this belief is untrue. Even though I may be blind to the effect of my actions, my actions still, nonetheless, have an impact.
One of the great tragedies of the human condition is that we will live our entire lives without ever knowing the real impact our actions had. How might our lives differ if we could see the full extent of our choices in the world? What decisions might we make if we could see how a friendly gesture lifted someone’s spirits enough to bear the weight of their life? What actions might we choose if we could see how a thoughtless word crushed someone’s dream?
Whenever an old student tells me of the significance of some comment I made years past, it reminds me of the following truths. Your life matters. Your choices matter. They matter because within your actions lies the power of creation. Your actions create our world. Whether you choose to act or do nothing, to build something new or honour the old, to be kind or cruel, each choice shapes our civilization.
The world we were born into, with all its blessings and follies, was created by the actions of every previous generation. Now, the spirits of our ancestors have passed the torch of creation to us. For these few years that we live and breathe on this earth, our actions will shape and influence not only our reality but the reality into which future generations are born. Here, now, in this time and place, we are the creators of our world.
Let’s make it a good one.
What courage is
- This textbook defines courage as taking practical and deliberate action to achieve a moral end in situations that may be dangerous.
Structures constraining our ability to act per our values
- Structures constraining our ability to act per our values include:
- Organizational culture
- Corporations’ legal standing
- Moral mazes
- The myth of rationality
Structures enabling our ability to act per our values
- Structures enabling our ability to act per our values include:
- Organizational culture
- Supportive bureaucratic rationalities
- Your values and moral convictions
Your choices matter because the actions you take shape our civilization.