As I walked down the hall toward my office, I spotted a woman and her daughter puzzling over a map of the school. “Can I help you find something?” I inquired. “Yes,” said the woman. “My daughter has just enrolled in the school and we are trying to locate her classes.” My offer for a “nickel tour” was quickly accepted. I showed them the state-of-the-art library; the fine arts complex; the extensive vocational department shops and classrooms including auto mechanics, laundry and dry cleaning, and the cosmetology lab; the math and science wing and the extensive athletic facilities. When we finished, the woman asked what I did at the school. “Oh,” I said, “I do just about anything that needs doing.”
About that time we were interrupted by a student who brought me a message from the office. As I read the paper, the woman asked the student who I was. “That’s Mr. Mac,” he said. “He’s the principal.” The woman was astonished. “We have just had a guided tour of the school by the principal himself? That would never happen in California!”
It has always brought me great pleasure to be of assistance to people, no matter who they are, and I have always been repaid many times over. A great king by the name of Benjamin once said that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” I believe that.
More than 2500 years ago in China a 22-year-old young man by the name of Ch’iu, of the clan of K’ung, founded a school. He sensed, as others did, that China was drifting from its ancient moorings. He knew that its literature and traditions were in danger of perishing through the anarchy into which the kingdom had fallen. He felt that the best way he could help the people and the nation was to gather up and preserve the records of antiquity, bring them up to date, interpret and explain their meaning and shape them into a practical system of ethics and morals for daily living. He wanted to teach the history and literature of China, and the simple but enduring virtues on which the civilization of China was founded. Students flocked to him from every part of the province, eagerly hoping for something to live by, some replenishing philosophy.
Ch’iu is better known to us as Confucius. He is recognized throughout the world for many wise sayings but the maxim he was to repeat over and over again throughout his long life and that was to become inseparably associated with his name and his philosophy was this: “What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.” Confucius made it the basic principle of his entire philosophy, the most important single rule of life. He preached it tirelessly and his disciples passed it on from one generation to the next; it helped shape the character and destiny of the Chinese nation. Though it may not belong to Confucius alone, it was at the root of all his teachings—and through his influence has been the guiding principle of countless millions of people since. Jesus preached it in Judea five hundred years after Confucius but, rather than state it in its negative form, He changed it into the familiar and inspiring Golden Rule of Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” In Mathew 7:12 we read, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
Seneca said, “He that does good to another does good also to himself, not only in the consequences but in the very act. For the consciousness of well-doing is in itself ample reward.”
“This is the sum of all true righteousness,” said Mahabharata, “deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by. Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter.”
The great American patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “The duty of man is not a wilderness of turnpike gates, through which he is to pass by tickets from one to the other. It is plain and simple, and consists but of two points—his duty to God, which every man must feel; and, with respect to his neighbor, to do as he would be done by.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is the most beautiful compensation of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
Without a doubt, I received more benefit from helping those in the hall that day than they received from me.
Perhaps William Morris summed it up when he said: “I’m going your way so let us go hand in hand. You help me and I’ll help you. We shall not be here very long, for soon death, the kind old nurse, will come back and rock us all to sleep. Let us help one another while we may.”