Last weekend, American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff — “brilliant, brave and beautiful,” as a colleague of hers and friend of mine described her — was killed on her way to deliver textbooks to Afghan children. She was 25.
Anne was gifted, like my students at Arroyo Grande High School. Sometimes they can get intensely frustrated when learning no longer comes so easily, and I think Anne helped me to say this to them at the end of Monday’s lesson: Because you are gifted, your lives are going to be more difficult. More is expected of you. Sometimes, your gifts won’t be appreciated or, like Anne, your best efforts may end in tragedy.
But because you are gifted, you have the chance to live transformative lives. That’s the greatest gift of all, and, because this is the gift you weren’t born with, it’s the one you have to work the hardest to earn.
Gandhi believed that ultimately and irrevocably, thanks to transformative lives, good will overcome evil. Your life’s impact may well unfold in ways that are beyond your choosing or understanding, but it’s the way you live your life that will be far more decisive than the way it ends.
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I want you to live like Anne.