The Thought for the Day – William E Woodward

[he] taught with a fervid, burning passion, like that which moves martyrs and heroes. – William E Woodward, The Way Our People Lived

William E Woodward (1874-1950) was an American writer. Rather versatile, he wrote novels and biographies as well as the history book today’s Thought comes from. The Way Our People Lived is a look at back how American manners and customs evolved over a 300 year period ending in the early 1940’s. We read it many years ago, likely toward the end of the 1980’s based on its position near the beginning of our quotebook. Unfortunately, we’ve long forgotten who the teacher is that Woodward is referring to.

No matter. We are reading about him or her today because this teacher did more than go through the motions.

…a fervid, burning passion…

Nothing great is accomplished without enthusiasm. If we are merely going through the motions at anything – a job, a relationship, anything – then we are cheating ourselves and our fellow humans. We are leaving experiences and emotions on the table when we should be taking them home with us. 

…like that which moves martyrs and heroes.

We don’t need to worry about being martyrs or heroes. To be a martyr is to believe in your cause so strongly and to an extent where your life no longer matters. You are ready to toss it aside for what you believe in because you have given yourself up to a cause greater than yourself. That is not for everybody.

To be a hero is to find yourself in a singular and momentous situation, though you don’t necessarily have to be doing something great. More than one hero has said they were average people merely doing what needed to be done in an extraordinary circumstance.

However, like martyrs and heroes, we can answer to something deep inside. Everything we do needs to be heartfelt. Everything needs to come from the very essence of our being. Everything must be believed in, especially ourselves because if we don’t believe in ourselves, we can’t expect to have anyone else believe in us, either.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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