Personal philosophy: how does one go about putting that into a short blog post? Certainly, a person’s philosophy of life is a complicated, ever-evolving concept, one not easily stated in a clear and concise thesis statement. Right?
Yes, probably. However, there are usually a few things that stand out as critically important, maybe even “deal-breakers,” for most people, those values by which we live our lives. What is mine?
Here it is: Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.
Here’s what that means to me: students in my classes know that we will end the semester significantly fewer than we began it in August. While that saddens me—for many reasons, not least of all “No Child Left Behind for College” AKA “performance-based funding”—I understand that it happens for myriad reasons, including the fact that not every person should go to college. The more important idea is that whatever a person decides to do as a profession or career, he or she should do it to the best of his or her ability. There is no shame in being a garbage collector, especially if one is the best garbage collector in town. There is no more glory in being the city administrator, especially if one does the job poorly. Whatever job a person decides to do, to provide for his or her family, has merit, and the merit grows in the pride the individual takes in the quality of his or her work. Truly, some of the people who have impressed me the most are those who so proudly, and humbly, perform their jobs with pride, no matter the status the job does, or does not, provide.
Secondly, I believe that doing one’s best at one’s occupation is second only to being a good person. A person should take pride in a job well done, but our work does not determine our worth as humans. Our charity, our honesty, our kindness, and our willingness to help others is what makes us good people. Only our humanity and our love for others determines our goodness; to do well is one thing, but to be good is quite another.
Finally, as I have told students repeatedly, language is a gatekeeper, one that keeps out those deemed not quite as “good” as others, as those who know the difference. That is why, for me, it’s important that you understand the difference between doing well and being good. If you understand you can do something well, but you should do something good, then I have completed my mission, and I have done both.