Not many people know of the ‘Paradoxical Commandments’ that Kent Keith wrote while he was a student at Harvard College. He was just 19 when he wrote a booklet for high school students. The purpose of the booklet was to give high school students a deeper reason to keep trying to bring change to the world after he had seen so many give up so quickly. The booklet he published revolves around an assumption that people care with a deep sincerity. Kent believed that you couldn’t do something meaningfully if you didn’t care about the person and caring was a necessity to help those in need. By following the ‘Paradoxical Commandments’ you are essentially living a ‘Silent Revolution’; which I have been living for years now. The revolution that gives no recognition. I have lived my life this way because I feel my giving is more meaningful because there is no recognition. I have to admit though, Kent was right when he said that living by these commandments would seldom be ‘fun’. This is because most of the time it tends to be demoralizing, tiring and at times tense. Now I do step out of the situation and see that the receiving party can also feel these things, this is where I have to be strong enough to fight the pain I receive from the receiving parties comments and accusations.
I will admit that I have failed and succumb to the feelings that discourage and cause you to throw your hands up and give up. I have had moments that I have forgotten the Paradoxical Commandments and stopped helping people I cared for or limited my giving or even asking those people for help when I need it so that they wouldn’t feel I helped them in the past as an ulterior motive. Usually this results in me cutting my nose off despite my face because I really needed help but wouldn’t ask because of one reason or another. I have many examples of the results of my discouragement. When I read the commandments I immediately think of these people and those examples, it saddens me but what can you do? People will think I have ulterior motives, people will think I am illogical, people will destroy the satisfaction I feel when I do a selfless act for them. It is unfortunate but I keep plugging along spreading love, happiness and good to those people because I have a deep love for them that they could never understanding, keeping them in a special place in my heart and my mind.
The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
― Kent M. Keith
I’m sure everyone can relate somehow to the commandments and can choose to live by them no matter what religion they are. That is the best part… there universal.