Wisdom Across the Generations
BY JACK LEVINE
“All wisdom is not new wisdom.” — Winston Churchill
For most of us, no one provided a more vital link to our heritage and family history than our grandparents. Wherever they were from, and no matter their background, our grandparents provided a first-person connection to our past.
Whether by birth or through adoption, grandparents are treasures deserving of honor and respect. Like all of us, none were perfect, but most were there for us when we needed them most.
The wisdom of our elders is irrefutable. I distinctly remember so many ways my elders, especially my dear Grandma Minnie, influenced me by example.
Here are a Baker’s Dozen Life Lessons I learned at Minnie’s kitchen table….
¨ Love knows no boundary. “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.” Minnie held tight to those she needed and those who needed her.
¨ An open door is an open heart. If a neighbor or their family had a problem, she was there for them. “If I needed them, I’d hope for the same treatment.” The golden rule does not tarnish.
¨ Waste not; want not. Minnie always made a little extra, just in case an unexpected visitor came for dinner.
¨ Charity begins at home. Reaching across the street as a way of helping others is good for them and us, too!
¨ Cleanliness is next to godliness. Minnie swept the sidewalk in front of her house almost every day. “When our guests come to our door, they should have a clear and welcoming path.”
¨ Progress comes in little steps. “A drop plus a drop fills up the pot” was among Minnie’s favorite phrases. Every day is another opportunity to take positive steps…for family and for community
¨ Laughter is the closest distance between two people. “Frowns make more wrinkles than smiles,” Minnie would say with glee.
¨ Honest compliments are among our most valued possessions. Giving credit when credit is due People shouldn’t assume you know about their good works. Tell them they are appreciated.”
¨ If there’s a problem, try to fix it. Minnie knew that “you’ll sit a long time with your mouth wide open before a roasted chicken will fly in.” Ignoring a problem is neither smart nor sensible.
¨ Don’t leave politics up to someone else. Even into her 90’s, when she had to helped into the voting booth, she did her duty with dignity. “Power is not given, it’s won with courage and hard work,” she said.
¨ Words without deeds are empty. Someone who makes a promise and doesn’t keep his word is an emotional thief. ‘It’s better to keep quiet than make a meaningless offer.”
¨ Patience pays dividends. Traditional food preparation may seem archaic, but love went into so many meals. “I like to cook because when I see the faces of satisfied eaters, I’m happy.”
¨ Resting is a reward for working hard. Minnie earned her rest, and made the time to relax, listen to music, observe nature, or read for pleasure. “Too much of anything isn’t good…including work.”
Over the centuries, our nation has been and continues to be populated by those whose life’s story is worth telling. Whether they came for freedom or by force in slavery, the values our grandparents brought with them are heirlooms which our children deserve to inherit.
Their sacrifices fueled our freedoms. Those who survived became advocates for causes and people who needed them…their life’s mission was to make the world a bit better than the one they experienced.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – JACK LEVINE
During my 35-plus year professional life I’ve learned that progress is not achieved by intention alone. Strategic advocacy is the only way wrongs can be righted and ideas can be transformed into action. All of our voices and votes are needed, and support of advocacy organizations is vital to assure your perspectives are represented. As examples to our children and grandchildren, let’s commit to be ardent and effective advocates.
The Advocate’s Credo:
Thou art my child, my parent, and my elder,
I love thee best,
But could not love thee half as much,
Loved I not all the rest.