Opening Hearts, Accessing Minds

If you are a self-reflective person, you may take notice of the controversy the mind entertains about selfish service or selfless service: the contribution one chooses for community, the scope of the community to which one contributes, the values that guide such actions, the actions that contribute value.

Yesterday, I sat in a large room with hundreds of people gathered to appreciate the values and valuable contribution of James Lewis Ross, II. “Ross” passed away on Sunday, and the occasion had been designed by Ross as a “roast” among good friends. The program was simple: two hours of personal reflections (limit: two minutes per speaker) from many who were touched by his incisive wisdom and considerable generosity of spirit. This was a very good man, a Human Being of considerable impact. Young and old, women and men, public and private citizens, leaders of all descriptions told of being mentored or befriended or educated… and loved and moved by Ross.

The accounts were remarkably  thought-provoking and emotional. One man told of Ross’ move from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party so that the Democrats – a minority at that time – would have greater ability to air their views with his sponsorship and encouragement. The mayor of a neighboring town told of Ross volunteering to assist with the hard work of creating a charter school, as Ross – a life-long sponsor of quality public education – wished to learn more about charter schools so he could more effectively lead such efforts in his own Charlotte, North Carolina, community.

He was a student and advocate of common sense and values appreciation. About common sense, he’d say you must be prepared to reap what you sow. About values appreciation, he’d talk about opening hearts and minds. Ross wrote about this, too, in Ones, Twos, Threes: Celebrating Our Sameness, Appreciating Our Differences.

Ross was emphatic when pointing out that we must think independently. He said we must resist the charm and persuasion of “leaders” and ad campaigns that distort common sense and values for any reason.

Ross was very pointed about the proper place for partisan politics in society. He said political parties are important, but only if they truly serve the people.

Perhaps his most influential role was mentor, and the roast of Ross turned out to be a series of warm humor and great wisdom mirrored by James Ross’ protégés, each deeply impressive in his or her reflections.

Reflect on your life, contributing to the goodness and strength of the Earth. Ross did this every day of his venerated lifetime.

Do these words about mentoring, values appreciation, common sense, and Jim Ross inspire you? I am sure those you mentor are grateful for all you pour into them, too.