A student in one of my FYE courses came up to me after I had written the last “Words of the Day” on the board. “Who around here are the people you most admire?” he asked.
I turned to him. “You know, I used to admire people who were famous, who had a sizeable reputation, who were in positions of authority, who were artistic, who were clever and witty. Man, for so many years I wanted to be like them. But, now, I admire especially our FYE teachers–to the person. .”
“Why?’ he asked.
“They, of all the academics on campus, care and are kind the most. ”
“Have you seen on your FYE teachers, really seen them? I have, and on other campuses as well. For a variety of reasons, most professors really don’t like to deal with you first year students. Well, They’re teachers who have a special dedication and commitment to your achievement. They believe in you the most; they have hope for you the most. But, most important, they have a special affection for each of you; they get so excited about you, sing in the halls, and dance on their desks. They see you people; they see you as worthy purposes as you can find.”
I went on to tell Sean that you can’t be kind and caring while being an egoist at the same time; you can’t be selfless and selfish at the same time; you can’t have a big heart if you have a big ego. Kindness is a welcoming embrace. Kindness has a healing power. It’s a heart softener. It clears and refreshes the air. Sometimes, just being kind, just saying that kind word or making that kind gesture is all that’s needed. Tenderness is a heck of a lot more important than toughness, and service is a greater remedy than self-centeredness. Some academics who are into their heads or their disciplines, but not really into people, may shake their heads and others may laugh, but we underestimate the healing power of kindness, sincere compassion, concern, empathy, and love.
“Your FYE teachers are alchemists with a greater capability of transforming every one around them than most on campus because they are in the habit of consciously and unconditionally thinking, feeling, and pronouncing the words ‘I love you.’”
Make it a good day.