Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Life of Mother Teresa

  • "People are often unreasonable, irrational and self–centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • "If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
  • "If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
  • "If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
  • "What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
  • "If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  • "The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
  • "Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
  • "In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
Mother Teresa (1910–1997)

Fifteen years ago today, the global grief over the untimely death of Princess Diana overshadowed the death of Mother Teresa.

I understood at the time why that was so. Princess Diana was young and beautiful. She seemed to have her whole life ahead of her, and she had already devoted much of her life to helping others. It was seen as a great loss.

Mother Teresa was in her 80s. She, too, had devoted most of her life to helping others, and her loss was considerable as well, but her life seemed to be mostly behind her. Consequently, most of the attention went to the loss of Diana.

Well, that was 1997. It is now 2012. People may look back at that time and think Diana's death was an appalling loss — and it was — but the shock and grief have faded. The memories of the lives and good works of both women are, justifiably, honored by those they left behind.

But, now that so much time has gone by, it seems to me that this is a good time to reflect on Mother Teresa's contribution to a better world.

For nearly half a century, she gave aid and comfort to the poor, sick, orphaned and dying.

She was recognized for her work in many ways — perhaps most notably with the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize (for which she declined the traditional banquet and asked if the nearly $200,000 in prize funds could be given to India's poor).

Mother Teresa sincerely tried to make her corner of the world a better place.

She didn't succeed in changing it. But, by the time she died, I believe she had made it a better place.

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