Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Power of Enthusiasm

My most memorable learning experience in the first semester of my freshman year in college did not occur in a classroom. The country was at war and a tension existed in everyone’s life. College was no escape and the war heightened in subtle ways the fears of being away from the snug comfort of home for the first time. Soon after the start of that semester, the president of the college declared that there should be a “Hello” spirit on campus. He declared that there was too much walking around with eyes down toward the ground and ignoring of fellow students. To encourage this new spirit, he would walk upstream in the flow of students on the malls heading for class. He would say “Hello” and smile, not to the crowd, but to individuals. He enlisted the faculty. To avoid being rude one had to say “Hello” back and smile in return. Soon , this spirit caught on and spread. And spread. Off campus it touched the streets of the town and into restaurants, diners, theaters, everywhere. In no time, the college was a happier place where days started and ended with a new lightness. It was magical, but it was also very real. It changed the emotional mood of an entire community. And this came about because of the action a single man. That was the lesson that I learned.

Sixty some years later I realize that religious analogies can be drawn from what I saw, but mine was a more pragmatic and immediate impression. Either way. all my life has been guided by the knowledge that anyone of us with enough gumption and passion can change our world.

5 comments:

Ch'i said...

I love that you wrote about this today, I've always been a 'Hello' person... and it's diminished a bit over time... but the spirit still lingers in me. Perhaps the warm feeling I got reading your words is the ressurection of that bit inside of me.

Laura said...

not a lot of people do that anymore...it's a shame

Archana said...

Nice! I shd keep this story in mind whenever I think "after all what can one person do to change something?"

beth said...

I really like that line, "It was magical but it was real." Isn't that often the case? The magical CAN be real!

I really enjoy reading what you'ver shared here!

I have always been a bit of a 'hello' person, and it is closely tied to my faith and how I believe we are expected to live amongst others. Your post inspired me to keep my chin up - literally!

Inder said...

very true. it is amazing what a simple smile and a casual hello/hi can do to us and the people around us. it could light up our day. and, smile is contagious :)