Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.Dr. Keith’s commandments seek to weaken pessimistic arguments against them by including the very arguments in the commandments. This best of/worst of pairing creates the paradoxical nature the commandments embody. Dr. Keith acknowledges humanity’s own tendency towards the negative, the trend we feel to pull others down, and he tells us not to worry about it. Our own nature combats this very same paradox on a daily basis.
- Do good
- Do good
- Be Honest and Frank
- Think big
- Fight for the underdogs
- Help People
- Give the world your best
- People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered
- People will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives
- You will win false friends and true enemies
- Good is forgotten quickly
- You will be vulnerable
- Small men and women with small minds will shoot you down
- People only follow top dogs
- What you build will be destroyed
- People may attack you
- You will get kicked in the teeth.
- I first encountered an adapted version of the “Paradoxical Commandments,” titled “The Final Analysis,” while listening to a Wayne Dyer audio CD in my early twenties. The meaning and message struck me as true, helping guide my thoughts and actions as I developed from a big kid into a real adult. Later, I discovered the poem was not actually written by Mother Theresa at all, but adapted, framed, and hung on the wall in her Calcutta orphanage. She cared about its message enough to use it to empower the weak and marginalized children to whom she gave her life.
The Paradoxical Commandments are reprinted with permission. © Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
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