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02 August 2011

Our words create feelings that last a lifetime...

by Wendie Busig-Kohn

JFK by Murray EisnerThe most important lessons in my life I learned in the 4th grade ~ part 3

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

This story is a little bit difficult to share. I'm still ashamed of myself.

One very cold and windy morning in November, my mom walked me and a neighbors little girl to school. The other little girl was trotting along beside my mom eating an over buttered piece of toast. Just as we were about to turn down a very windy, hilly street, she suddenly turned and wiped her greasy hands all over my mother's winter coat.

I will never know why but, perhaps I just needed more of MY mom's attention, I blurted out "I don't think President Kennedy is doing a very good job! I liked President Eisenhower much better!" I can still SEE that moment and the alarmed look on my mom's face.

When neighbors would comment to my mom that I was "certainly an opinionated child", I took it as a compliment. I thought it meant I was smart!

However, the attention I needed in order to distract her from her own distress over the now buttered coat, did not change the power of the winds as we turned the corner. But the day had just begun and this was going to be a day I would never forget for the rest of my life.

A little later, an announcement came over the intercom at school...

We were sent home early that day.

All of us who were alive on that cold November day will always remember where we were. It wasn't until I was about 30 years old that I finally confided to my mom how I had felt. As a child, I believed this was entirely my fault. I had said something mean and the man was killed. To this day I wince and tear up at the memory of the words I had uttered that morning. Maybe I will never truly forgive myself.

How often do we feel self important? Our need for attention from others driving us to say things we just might regret? Does it make us feel any better? Do we ever accomplish anything by simply expressing a condescending opinion...at any age?

If you knew the words of criticism you spoke today about a friend, associate, relative or even a stranger were the last words you would remember saying before they died, would you chose your words more carefully?

I'd rather be one of those people who can find something GOOD to say about EVERYONE!

In sum, I'd rather be a first class mind and focus my words to inspire and discuss IDEAS!

This is the third of four of "the most important lessons I've learned in life, I learned in the 4th grade".


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