What is the most important or greatest life lesson you have learnt to date?
This is a question I have thought a lot about during the past 12 months as I have adjusted to retirement after 42 years as an educator.
My response to this question is obvious (to me!), yet equally challenging to live by in a 21st Century increasingly secular and politically correct global community.I pause and look at the current global situation.
We are told that the level of poverty is decreasing, yet there are still millions of people living in poverty.
The Middle East remains a powder keg which could explode any day.
The number of authoritarian, egocentric rulers – dictators would be a better term – seems to be increasing. This means more and more people are likely to be living in oppression, some of whom, who know no other lifestyle, probably don’t even realise this. Ruling with fear is no way to bring about global peace.
In 2016 I visited Terezin Concentration Camp outside Prague where I was deeply moved by the drawings by children, most of whom were put to death by the Nazis.
I have studied the major world religions in an effort to better understand the make-up of our global community.
What, therefore, is the Greatest Life Lesson I have learnt?
Men or women with big egos are unlikely to bring peace to the world, as their motives lack the heart of the Great Teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I have learnt that God is good and He is working out His plan; that I have no comprehension of the height, breadth, depth and length of His unconditional love nor the generosity of His grace as he accepts me warts and all.
I have learnt that life is about meaningful relationships and the most important relationship is the one I enjoy with Jesus, my Saviour. While many in the world will mock me, make fun of me, even persecute me because of my faith, the promise of the eternal journey is inspiring and motivating me to be true to myself while striving to be the best person I can be.
I am never alone and, through many ‘miracles’ and unexplained special moments in my life journey thus far – which I call God-incidences – I have witnessed God’s unconditional love in a deeply personal way. These experiences have also taught me that I can’t ‘fix’ anyone’s life nor their family situation, nor can I change anyone.
What I can do is try my best to role model the spirit of mentoring, especially when working with young people during a period of their lives when they are impressionable and vulnerable.
I have also learnt the importance of respecting the belief systems of others and not judging them in any way.
After visiting the Terezin Concentration Camp, I wrote the Global Prayer for Peace, which defines who I am striving to become, doing my best to make a positive difference in the world and a positive person of influence.
Global Prayer for Peace*
Embrace all nations with a vision of global peace;
Transform the hearts and minds of all people that they might capture this vision of peaceful co-existence and collaborative living
And let it begin with me.
Encourage me not to rest until I know that our global community is free and as equal as is humanly possible;
Help me to speak out with courage and boldness against discrimination and injustice;
Guide our global leaders to rid their countries of any unjust and oppressive laws, guaranteeing their people freedom of thought, religion, speech and movement;
Protect us from the evils of tyranny and the abuse of fundamental Human Rights and give me the strength to speak out against such atrocities;
Raise up global leaders committed to ending war, global poverty and injustice;
Create a global village in which all peoples have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, childcare and have sufficient money to live on;
Use me to reach out to those less privileged without expecting anything in return;
Help me to understand my duty to my fellow men, women and children and to play my small part in ensuring their freedom and rights are protected;
Gently nudge me each and every day to remember that the change begins with me;
Let me never cease striving to play my small part in establishing a global community built on freedom, justice and peace.
(*The Global Prayer for Peace is framed by the Declaration of Human Rights)
©Robin Cox, 2016
What is your Greatest Life Lesson?
About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in Australia and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Twitter @million2016coxy or on Facebook (where you are able to join a closed mentoring group) or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website Robin’s free Mentoring Matters daily podcasts (each podcast between 1.5 and 3 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here.