I learned it many years ago, while reading the Best Reference Letter Ever: written by a very distinguished linguistics professor for a student who went on to win a prestigious international scholarship. This student, he said, was destined for greatness; and he submitted his judgment with the certainty of the expression above.
I’ve always held the concept as a very important indicator in my mind. “Would I put my hand in the fire for that?” I sometimes think, and it helps me to make a decision or see a situation more clearly. It’s similar to “is this the battlefield I want to die on?”
These days (certainly as every day) there seems to be so much difficulty, wrong, pain, injustice, and mismanagement in our world, and I need a little revitalization. Often when I feel this way, I’ll write a list of things for which I’m grateful, but that’s certainly been done, and I need a bit of a stronger draught.
So, what are five things for which would you put your hand in the fire? Things / people / causes in which you believe passionately and completely? This might be demonstrated in that you would take extraordinary (for you) action…donations, marching, writing letters…or merely in the way you live your life. You may give as much or as little detail as you wish.
1. I believe that education is the best hope the world has for peace and understanding. International education has been my professional and personal passion for my entire career. Knowing someone from a group that is misunderstood, feared, or discounted (or simply unknown) makes them real and human.
2) I believe that we must continue to work toward equity and understanding among different groups. That the cause of equal opportunity for LGBTQ etc. people is the civil rights issue of our time...but also that we are not finished with the causes of people of color, women, the disabled.
3) I believe in help and protection for those less fortunate. This particularly means social programs and health care, especially for children and the elderly...in our country and around the world. I have a long-time desire to work for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, when I have more time available in the weekdays (retirement?) I expect it to be very painful and difficult, but it's been coming back to me for so long that I know it's not just me thinking it's the thing for me to do.
4) I believe that abuse of animals and the environment is one of the worst crimes possible. Go here for a preliminary list of some places to donate to help animals affected by the oil disaster.
5) I believe that God loves and cares for me, and for all in the world. That the god of my understanding may not be the one you understand; you may call your god by names like Allah, G-d, HP (higher power), or Harvey. It's really not my business. My job is to be the person in the world that I believe my God wants me to be.
For these things, I would put my hand in the fire.