Monday, March 28, 2011

Worth working toward...

"A mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate, because you feel genuine in a mensch's presence - a highly evolved human being. Menschlichkeit (the art of the mensch) has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect. A mensch exudes a certain magnetism that attracts us, whether or not words or glances are exchanged. A person is a mensch because he simply makes others feel good."  (The Art of Being Mensch)

"As you learn to accept and to listen to other people's suffering, while developing as a mensch, you learn to accept yourself as well."

The Joys of Yiddish, defines mensch this way:
"Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible."
The Bible also teaches how to become this type of person.

A couple of years ago (maybe 3) I ran into an old school classmate who was a presenter at a conference I attended.  On recognition of me he said, "I remember you were always nice and smart."  What a compliment!  After all these years he remembered me with two very nice adjectives.  
Then, two years ago I received this:  
"I ran across your name in some Facebook things relative to...  Granite High recently & was reminded of your good nature many years ago. I remember a day in Mr. Johnson's French class at Granite Park Jr. when the class was taking a break for some reason; singing a couple popular songs.  One was Barbara Ann, and I was totally lost having never heard it before.  I hadn't discovered KNAK or KCPX yet, and you very kindly took a minute to explain it was a Beach Boys song on the radio.  A small & otherwise insignificant act, but one I've never forgotten.  Over the years after that, at both Granite Park & Granite High, you were one of the jet-setters, and I wasn't.  Most members of the "in crowd" were relatively arrogant and cliquish to non-members, you never were.  I'm just writing to say that I hope your life has been good to you, and that you're happy today.  I know you don't remember me, but you are a name and a face from the long ago that I've never forgotten.  My best wishes, Debbie."
This one blew me away!  After all these years (I'm a grandmother now!) this guy sought me out to thank me for a kindness I never remembered - but he never forgot.  So, I could add "kindness" to my newly found list of qualities I apparently exuded at one time (and strive to still).  It meant a lot to me to learn this.  How amazing that he would take a moment to make me feel good now with a compliment.  It also made me want to show more gratitude for the random acts of kindness shown me. 

I'll admit, in high school, nice, kind, and smart would not have jumped out at me as desirable traits.  (Weren't those things just expected?).  Why couldn't I be considered cute, sexy, or beautiful?

It was also food for thought.  After his note I prayed that anyone I might have been inadvertently unkind to or who had witnessed my more heathen side would not have such a good memory.  Heaven forbid I ever acted like the snobs he had also observed!

It also made me want to be more kind, nice and smart.  Sometimes I think I am.  I'm not easily offended but I'm definitely hurt sometimes.  I don't give up friendships and relationships easily.  As my 8-year old grandson, Josh said, "it makes me cry - not the kind where I throw a fit; just where I get tears in my eyes"

Recently I read some stuff by some relationship expert who said that men aren't looking for nice, smart, nurturing, or sexy - not really.  Hmmmm, no wonder I was having trouble in that area.  It appears genuine is also something some of my extended family doesn't value in me.

Values... I want to do what is right in every circumstance.  But, as humans, we all fall down sometimes.  I would emulate Jean Valjean (Les Miserables).  I would hope for respect in so doing, but as with Javier, some people hate you for standing up for what you believe and being the best you can be.  But, in the morning, I have to look in the mirror so it can't be about what others think of me; only what God thinks of me. 

Be who you are.  Or in the biblical, translated verbage - "I am I am".  This phrase has a lot of meaning in reference to Jesus Christ, but one meaning we use today might imply, "I am genuine" - the Real McCoy.

Good-natured, genuine, smart, nice, kind....mensche.  Yes, I think it's a worthy goal.  I guess if someone doesn't like it they won't like me because that is something I strive for and may hopefully achieve one day.  I have also developed a spiritual side which I hope to continue to improve upon.  It is my rock and I cannot deny Jesus Christ as my savior and exemplar, brother and friend.

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