It is with great pleasure that we present the sixth installment in the series of articles written by our friend, Solomon Rajaram Hariharan, a member of the “Dream team 2012” of “Sri Lanka Unites”( A youth movement for hope and reconciliation).
Even though I have heard and read the story of Mother Teresa many times, her life never fails to inspire me. I’m sure this brilliant interpretation of her words will touch your soul too.
Mother Teresa was an Albanian-born Indian Roman Catholic nun. She founded the Missionaries of Charity. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Mother Teresa spoke a lot on loving, having compassion for others and humility. She lived a humble life claiming ‘If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.’ Leaders around us tend to get proud and start doing things sometimes against their values just so that they will get praised by the people around them. When peoples’ praise starts to drive you, you will lose your identity. You will turn out as a person who is a nominal leader and you will begin to follow the wants of the smaller group that praises you instead of truly addressing the needs of the people. We should always know that people will always give remarks and criticize everyone. A good leader should learn to be humble and continue to do the right cause despite various criticisms.
Being a nun, Mother Teresa always displayed the teaching of Jesus in the Bible. ‘Love to be real, it must hurt-it must empty us of self.’ Mother Teresa gave herself for the cause of helping the orphans, street children, poor and old people who are neglected by their children. For this cause she emptied herself. She knew that the obstacle lying in her path was not placed by someone else but by her own self. And she decided to empty herself so that she can pursue her cause. ‘Live simply so others may simply live’: This quote states Mother Teresa’s reason for living a simple life. She could have chosen to live in a grand manner. But her choice was confident and clear. She had a clear vision as to how she wanted to impact on the cause and she never strayed away from her path. Money and Fame can lead a leader to his or her downfall. Many leaders stray away from their initial cause and end up in some other path. We should constantly remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter who gets the name as long as the cause we stand for is carried out efficiently.
‘It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish’: Through this quote, Mother Teresa tries to bring out the message of living a life such that it doesn’t kill another person’s. We live in a world built up by our wants and wishes. Many people lose track of what is really needed. They follow their wants prioritizing it above the needs of others. This leads to unnecessary loss of lives. Mother Teresa was considerate of this fact, and she lived accordingly. ‘Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger; a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.’ This was Mother Teresa’s opinion. This was what steered her to remain on the cause she had started. We can see from her life that she knew how the people in the streets, the old being neglected by their own children and the poor felt. She understood the pain these people felt. Because of that, she was able to connect with them and work to give them what they lost; their identity. She loved and cared for them as if they were her own relatives.
‘Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies’. Mother Teresa found her strength to continue her cause in the small things such as loving the poor and helpless. ‘May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.’This quote strongly insists that love is a gift that we have received and it should be shared; because love is present for each one of us.
The leaders we see around us are usually self-centered. Though outwardly they may deny it; deep inside, many leaders struggle constantly with their self-centered mentality. What can we do when we see such people? When we attempt to be kind, people may accuse us of having hidden motives. Does it meant that we should stop being kind? As Mother Teresa said, ‘People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.’ What Mother Teresa said is true. People criticize and point fingers all the time. It doesn’t mean that you deviate from the correct path that you have chosen. It doesn’t mean that you have to follow whatever the world tells you to. We need to stand strong on our values and beliefs. If we as leaders fail to be strong, how can we expect the followers to remain strong on the cause? No matter how good you do something, the society will always find the mistakes and speak of them. What we can achieve is continue doing what we live for no matter what the world throws at you.
When we as leaders stand strong, we move other to get involved in the cause. We stand as examples that others see and willingly join hand with us in the cause. This was what Mother Teresa was good at. She was good at inspiring others to join in the cause. The way she lived the cause made many to follow her footsteps. She knew that she alone could not achieve her vision. She knew that she had to live a life that inspires others to follow; and she lived it. ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples’. Certainly she created many ripples. Now her cause is widespread all over the world. There are numerous workers and volunteers passionate about the cause she stood for and working collaboratively towards larger goals.
‘Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.’