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~~~~~~~ WITandWISDOM™ - June 25, 1999

~~~~~~~ THOUGHTS:

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right. - Hannah Whitall Smith

(E-zine: THOUGHT OF THE DAY Mailto:majordomo@c-realm.com?message=subscribe totd)


One day in 11th grade, I went into a classroom to wait for a friend of mine. When I went into the room, the teacher, Mr. Washington, suddenly appeared and asked me to go to the board to write something, to work something out. I told him that I couldn't do it. And he said, "Why not?"

I said, "Because I'm not one of your students."

He said, "It doesn't matter. Go to the board anyhow."

I said, "I can't do that."

He said, "Why not?"

And I paused because I was somewhat embarrassed. I said, "Because I'm Educable Mentally Retarded."

He came from behind his desk and he looked at me and he said, "Don't ever say that again. Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality."

It was a very liberating moment for me. On one hand, I was humiliated because the other students laughed at me. They knew that I was in Special Education. But on the other hand, I was liberated because he began to bring to my attention that I did not have to live within the context of what another person's view of me was.

And so, Mr. Washington became my mentor. Prior to this experience, I had failed twice in school. I was identified as Educable Mentally Retarded in the fifth grade, was put back from the fifth grade into the fourth grade, and failed again, when I was in the eighth grade. So this person made a dramatic difference in my life.

I always say that he operates in the consciousness of Goethe, who said, "Look at a man the way that he is, he only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, and then he becomes what he should be." Like Calvin Lloyd, Mr. Washington believed that "Nobody rises to low expectations." This man always gave students the feeling that he had high expectations for them and we strove, all of the students strove, to live up to what those expectations were.

One day, when I was still a junior, I heard him giving a speech to some graduating seniors. He said to them, "You have greatness within you. You have something special. If just one of you can get a glimpse of a larger vision of yourself, of who you really are, of what it is you bring to the planet, of your specialness, then in a historical context, the world will never be the same again. You can make your parents proud. You can make your school proud. You can make your community proud. You can touch millions of people's lives." He was talking to the seniors, but it seemed like that speech was for me.

I remember when they gave him a standing ovation. Afterwards, I caught up to him in the parking lot and I said, "Mr. Washington, do you remember me? I was in the auditorium when you were talking to the seniors."

He said, "What were you doing there? You are a junior."

I said, "I know. But that speech you were giving, I heard your voice coming through the auditorium doors. That speech was for me, Sir. You said they had greatness within them. I was in that auditorium. Is there greatness within me, Sir?"

He said, "Yes, Mr. Brown."

"But what about the fact that I failed English and math and history, and I'm going to have to go to summer school. What about that, Sir? I'm slower than most kids. I'm not as smart as my brother or my sister who's going to the University of Miami."

"It doesn't matter. It just means that you have to work harder. Your grades don't determine who you are or what you can produce in your life."

"I want to buy my mother a home."

"It's possible, Mr. Brown. You can do that." And he turned to walk away again.

"Mr. Washington?"

"What do you want now?"

"Uh, I'm the one, Sir. You remember me, remember my name. One day you're gonna hear it. I'm gonna make you proud. I'm the one, Sir."

School was a real struggle for me. I was passed from one grade to another because I was not a bad kid. I was a nice kid; I was a fun kid. I made people laugh. I was polite. I was respectful. So teachers would pass me on, which was not helpful to me. But Mr. Washington made demands on me. He made me accountable. But he enabled me to believe that I could handle it, that I could do it.

He became my instructor my senior year, even though I was Special Education. Normally, Special Ed students don't take Speech and Drama, but they made special provisions for me to be with him. The principal realized the kind of bonding that had taken place and the impact that he'd made on me because I had begun to do well academically. For the first time in my life I made the honor roll. I wanted to travel on a trip with the drama department and you had to be on the honor roll in order to make the trip out of town. That was a miracle for me!

Mr. Washington restructured my own picture of who I am. He gave me a larger vision of myself, beyond my mental conditioning and my circumstances.

Years later, I produced five specials that appeared on public television. I had some friends call him when my program, "You Deserve," was on the educational television channel in Miami. I was sitting by the phone waiting when he called me in Detroit. He said,
"May I speak to Mr. Brown, please?"

"Who's calling?"

"You know who's calling."

"Oh, Mr. Washington, it's you."

"You were the one, weren't you?"

"Yes, Sir, I was."

By Les Brown from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

(E-zine: CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL http://www.soupserver.com/)

~~~~~~~ THIS & THAT:


1. Parish information, read only during the homily.
2. Air conditioning.
3. Your receipt for attending church.

CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip sync.

HYMN: A song of praise, usually sung in a key three octaves higher than that of the congregation's range.

RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Service, often sung a little more quietly, since some of the people have already left.

JUSTICE: When kids have kids of their own.

MAGI: The most famous trio to attend a baby shower.

1. Where Mary gave birth to Jesus because Joseph wasn't covered by an HMO.
2. The Bible's way of showing us that holiday travel has always been rough.

PEW: A medieval torture device still found in most churches.

PROCESSION: The ceremonial formation at the beginning of Service, consisting of priests/ministers, the choir and late parishioners looking for seats.

RECESSIONAL: The ceremonial procession at the conclusion of Service - led by parishioners trying to beat the crowd to the parking lot.

USHERS: The only people in the parish who don't know the seating capacity of a pew.

(E-zine: THE FUNNIES Mailto:Andychap@aol.com)


In a classroom pupils were asked to always write in silence. One day the teacher dozed off and was awakened by some of the pupils making noise. To cover her embarrassment she said, "It was always my wish to meet the scholar Plato and, a while ago, I did see him in my dream."

The next day a pupil dozed off while listening to the teacher's long lecture. Upon seeing the sleeping child, the teacher woke him up and rebuked him. "Why are you sleeping during the lecture?" The pupil answered, "I also went to see the scholar Plato." The teacher asked, "And what did Plato say?", to which the pupil replied, "Plato said he did not meet with you yesterday."

(E-zine: JOKES EVERY DAY mailto:jokesubscribe@jokeseveryday.com)

~~~~~~~ TRIVIA:

You Might Be From Louisville, Kentucky If . . .

. . . you've shoveled 10 inches of snow and worn shorts in the same week.

. . . you've experienced a "salt storm" after a 2 inch snow fall. (seriously, more salt on the roads than snow)

. . . you've ever taken a winter coat along on a day that started out at 65
degrees and sunny.

. . . your international airport has only ONE passenger flight that leaves the contiguous 48 states and lands in a different country.

. . . you live in an area that occasionally gets considerable snowfall, frequent floods, and a tornado or two and has no capacity to deal with any of the above.

. . . you pronounce the name of your city different than anyone else in the country (Lullvull, Luavull, Lewisville, Looeyvul)

. . . when you think "Kentucky" you don't automatically think horse racing or fried chicken.

. . . you ask your doctor for an allergy cure and he tells you to move.

(E-zine: CHUCKLES Mailto:chucklesadmin@geocities.com)

WITandWISDOM™ Copyright © 1998-2000 by Richard G. Wimer - All Rights Reserved
Any questions, comments or suggestions may be sent to Richard G. Wimer.