No. 211



When it comes to the subject of learning, the English statesman Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) has left us with this observation, “Learning, the knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired by reading men and studying all the various editions of them.” While the “Lord” may have meant this statement in a generic context, if he were around today he would have included women, because they too will have their place in history.

At this point I would like to ask you a somewhat personal question. Of course, whether you choose to answer it or not is entirely up to you. What have you learned? To expand this question a bit, please understand that I am not talking about how long you attended school or how many college degrees you have. Rather, I’m talking about all the various influences that have come into your life and how the sum total of all your experiences, good and bad, have enabled you to become a productive member of society.

While education and learning are not always synonymous, we can be an educated fool, our nation’s collective educational effort spends billions of dollars each year in an attempt to bring very small children all the way through kindergarten, to high school and beyond to learn and acquire the necessary skills to provide for themselves, their dependents and for future generations.

Well, enough generalizations. I’m talking about people who not only have an education but also some common sense and the character values that will enable them to be good citizens and responsible stewards of the greatest nation to ever appear on the face of the earth.

At this point I would like to say that I have made lots of mistakes. Many of these were due to ignorance, while others were because I made the choice to go against laws and principles that I had been taught by my parents and while I was in school and college. With respect to what you have learned, you will have to be your own best or worst critic, but I would like to share a few of the more important things I have learned or think I have learned.

I have learned to be grateful for what I have and among these things are the blessings of life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness. I have learned that even though I may not personally like an individual or group, to respect the worth and dignity of every living person. I have learned that a fine person can be inside a black skin, a red skin, a yellow skin and a brown skin, just like they can be in a white skin. I have learned that truth and honesty is indeed the best policy and not just something to talk about.

I have learned that the only real satisfaction in life comes from hard work and doing my very best a whatever I choose to do. I have learned that there are consequences for sin and that one cannot flaunt the laws of God forever and get away with it. I have also learned that you cannot out give God, because the more you give of yourself, your time, talents and resources, the more He will bless you. I have learned to feel sadness for those in leadership positions and those who hold public office who violate the sacred trust, because there will be an accounting and quite often when they least expect it. In closing, we are blessed to have our state’s educational television network (AETN) here in our community and their motto is “Where Learning Never Ends.” What a great thought for each day of our lives. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)