What is holding you back by Dr Anthony Dillon 30 October 2013 “I resolved that I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
hese are inspiring words by Booker T Washington, a man who was born into slavery in America. As Booker was an Afro-American, his life and teachings likely have appeal for Aboriginal people. However, in this article I am expressing ideas I think are relevant for all people. This is not an article about Aboriginal people. His life and outlook are so inspiring, that I think all people can benefit from his ideas. The quote comes from Booker’s autobiography - a book I highly recommend. The quote is suggesting that when we hate others, we pay the price. What this quote of Booker’s shows is that by hating others, we disempower ourselves and empower those we hate. I have benefited much from modern thinkers and teachers but am delighted to see that the life principles I most admire and teach to others when invited to do so, Booker was teaching and living them more than hundred years ago. Consistent with this line of thinking, he writes: “I have found that the happiest people are those who do the most for others; the most miserable are those who do the least”. This is similar to the words of Martin Luther King Jr
Dr Anthony Dillon
who said “Anyone can be great because anyone can be a servant”. Both King and Washington have the obvious shared experience of racism. Whether it be racism, discrimination, poor health, physical or mental limitation, there are many people who have experienced difficult times, yet go on to do great things. Sometimes these people are well known like Washington and King, while others are less well known. They may be local heroes, an uncle or aunty, a neighbour, or a teacher. We know them and we remember them because they inspire us. One of my favourite people who inspires millions of people is Nick Vujicic. He is an Australian man born without limbs (check him out on youtube if you have not seen him). He could easily be angry (and he was sometimes in his early years) because of his physical limitations. What he lacks in limbs, he makes up for in courage, guts, and wisdom. He has said “Don’t put your life on hold so that you
can dwell on the unfairness of past hurts”. Like Booker, Nick’s philosophy (or formula for success and happiness) is to focus on doing good for others. Naturally common sense applies here. You must tend to your own needs first, as you cannot be of much use to others if you are physically and mentally run down yourself. Now with regard to helping others and treating them well, there is a valuable lesson here. If we are all one and interconnected as traditional Indigenous people have said so, then by treating others well, we are treating ourselves well. Also, when we treat others badly, we are treating ourselves badly. In sum, how we treat others is how we treat ourselves. This does not mean that we don’t disagree with, admonish, or correct others, but when doing so, we can maintain respect for the other, thereby maintaining self-respect. I have said nothing original in this article. Instead I have drawn on the works of some well known people who have made a difference in this world. As I conclude, to add my own thoughts (which could never really be my own anyway) is to risk spoiling the message offered in this article. I will instead finish with a quote from Booker without any explanation: “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”. So what’s holding you back from succeeding?