The Ten Most Important Things Ever Said

Overview

Everyone loves a great quote. We marvel at those rare souls who can clearly convey an idea and elicit an emotional response from a reader or an audience in a mere sentence or two. The economy of their words provides us a nicely packaged expression that is convenient, versatile and easily stored, perhaps on a slip of paper or perhaps merely tucked away in our memory banks. Because ideas are not expressed in a vacuum, learning something about the person to whom a quote is attributed is essential if we are to fully ...
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The Ten Most Important Things Ever Said

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Overview

Everyone loves a great quote. We marvel at those rare souls who can clearly convey an idea and elicit an emotional response from a reader or an audience in a mere sentence or two. The economy of their words provides us a nicely packaged expression that is convenient, versatile and easily stored, perhaps on a slip of paper or perhaps merely tucked away in our memory banks. Because ideas are not expressed in a vacuum, learning something about the person to whom a quote is attributed is essential if we are to fully appreciate its intended meaning. In "The Ten Most Important Things Ever Said", Dan D. Schinzel brings together quotes from a wide variety of sources that span different cultures and times. Each of the ten expressions is followed by a fictional scene and conversation created to elaborate on the intentions of the author. Each quote is also accompanied by two or three relevant stories from the past: some familiar, others obscure. The end product is a book that is intended to be a starting point for a conversation about how the words of the past can serve as beacons for our future. For while the ten different sayings cover an assortment of subjects and are attributed to a variety of sources, they all share one common trait: the words and their meaning are timeless.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477227985
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The ten Most Important things Ever Said


By Dan D. Schinzel

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2012 Dan D. Schinzel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-2799-2


Chapter One

It is your care for others that is the true measure of your greatness.

Jesus of Nazareth

Act I

Sitting on a hillside near a remote village in first-century Palestine, an itinerant Jewish preacher is surrounded by his followers. He takes a child and places her on his lap. Several of the more prominent men begin to argue about who among them is the greatest.

Dialogue

* Teacher, we cannot decide who will have the highest place of honor in the next world. Surely one of us must rank above the rest. How should we decide who is the greatest among us?

+ Behold this beautiful child who sits here on my lap. Whoever takes care of such a child is caring for me and the One who sent me. It is your care and concern for others that is the true measure of your greatness.

* A child? What does tending to a child have to do with measuring our importance? Surely anyone can watch over a child.

+ This innocent child is the work of the Father. And He has given this gift to you. No one is more vulnerable in this world than such a child. She is dependent on you for nurturing, protection, and guidance. Your unconditional love is the only hope for such a child. Just as you receive unconditional love from me, you must offer it to those who most need it from you. Your place in this world and the next is not dependent on such fleeting qualities as power, money, or even wisdom. No, your greatness lies in the care and compassion you give to those who have nothing to give you in return.

* We all agree that this child deserves the love and compassion you describe. But we also need to be practical. This world is imperfect and we need the leaders among us to assume power, grow wealth, and make decisions. Are you suggesting we can ignore the realities of the world around us and focus only on the needs of those who cannot or will not assume responsibility for themselves?

+ What good is a society that does not care for its most vulnerable members? Such a society glorifies those who gather wealth and power; I glorify those who give them away.

* Teacher, are you saying we must drop everything and abandon our lives and responsibilities in order to achieve the greatness you describe?

+ A life committed to kindness and generosity does not necessitate dropping everything. Look around you. No matter your circumstances, no matter your responsibilities, no matter your lot in life, you are confronted with countess opportunities to show care and concern for others. Extraordinary acts can emerge from the most ordinary of circumstances.

* What you say seems so simple. Yet people suffer for so many reasons: isolation, poverty, hunger, disease, abuse, oppression, to name a few. These problems are too complex for any of us to solve.

+ Why do you insist that a complex problem requires a complex solution? Focus on what you can control and do not worry about that which you cannot. Suffering has been a part of the world from its inception. There will always be poverty and hunger, abuse and oppression. Focus on the one who suffers rather than on the cause of that suffering. No one person can eradicate hunger, yet each of you has the power to offer a starving child a portion of what you have to eat. No one person can end oppression and violence, yet each of you can stand up for a persecuted stranger. No one person can remove loneliness and isolation from this world, yet each of you can take the time to put your arm around an outsider and make her feel welcome and loved. No one person can stop the spread of disease, yet each of you can offer care and comfort to those who are in pain. The love of my Father allows for many paths to salvation. But this I assure you: No one who has ever looked among the poor, sick, the hungry, or the forgotten, has ever failed to find me. And once you have found me, I never let you go.

There Is Room at the Inn

Ordinary men and women, when confronted with circumstances they could never have imagined, often respond in extraordinary ways. History reveals that human beings are capable of carrying out unthinkable atrocities and inflicting indescribable pain and suffering upon one another. But history also tells us that in the presence of such evil a righteous few will emerge, armed with compassion and love, to defend the innocent victims of circumstance. This is the story of one of those righteous few.

In 1994, a 100-day genocide engulfed the African nation of Rwanda. The violence that unfolded was a product of a long history of civil unrest in the country. Ethnic distinctions between the nation's rival Hutu and Tutsi tribes provided the fuel for that unrest. In fact, prior to German and Belgian colonization, Hutus were slaves to the ruling Tutsi class. During the colonial period in the early twentieth century, differences in appearance (Tutsis tend to be tall and thin while Hutus tend to be shorter and stockier) and culture led the Belgian colonists, who took control of Rwanda after Germany was defeated in World War I, to favor the more "European" Tutsis and place them in positions of influence and power.

Conflict between the tribes mounted toward the end of the colonial period. When independence came in 1962, the Hutus took power and the country became a one-party state. The once-favored Tutsis were now an oppressed minority. While turmoil and strife were constants in Rwandan post-colonial history, the powder keg of ethnic division did not really explode until 1994, when a plane crash killed Rwandan President Habayarimana, a Hutu. The Tutsi rebels were immediately blamed.

In the wake of the death of President Habayarimana, Hutu militia began to round up and slaughter Tutsis in retaliation. Like millions of Rwandans, Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager of mixed Hutu-Tutsi lineage who had spent his career wining and dining generals, ambassadors, and dignitaries at both the Diplomate Hotel and the plush Hotel des Milles Collines, found himself caught in the middle of an ethnic cleansing. He and his family were suddenly surrounded by evil and forced into unthinkable situations and decisions.

The chaos eventually reached their doorstep and Hutu rebels herded Paul and his family onto a bus filled with Tutsi men, women, and children. At one point during the bus trip, he was handed a gun and told to kill the "cockroaches," a term used by the rebels to describe Tutsis. Calling on the communication and persuasion skills he had honed in his professional life, Paul managed to convince the Hutu rebels to spare the lives of the Tutsis on board and take the bus to the Hotel des Milles, where they could be confined.

Using funds from the hotel safe, Paul was able to bribe the Hutu rebels, temporarily ensuring the safety of those Tutsis taking refuge in the Hotel des Milles. Over 1200 Tutsis eventually made it there. Once a luxurious, opulent hotel that catered to the rich and powerful, the Hotel des Milles was now a safe house for innocent Tutsis who had become the prey in a bloodthirsty genocide. Through cunning, compassion, and a little luck, Paul was able to offer hope to a desperate people.

Eventually the militia cut off electricity, food, and water at the hotel. Paul then used the swimming pool as a source of clean water and rationed the hotel food supply to ensure the Tutsis could remain there as long as possible. Outside the Hotel des Milles, the situation deteriorated badly. The United Nations presence dwindled and eventually evaporated. When rebels slaughtered ten peacekeepers sent by Belgium, the foreign forces backed out completely, essentially abandoning the Rwandan people. Paul and his hotel guests were now truly on their own. Because he was able to maintain one open phone line, Paul made daily calls to anyone outside Rwanda that he could contact, ensuring that the story of the genocide would be told even though the world had temporarily turned its back on the situation.

Eventually, Paul managed to secure transportation out of the area for the Tutsis at the hotel on a convoy by threatening to expose the rebel general in charge as a war criminal. As a result, the 1200 Tutsis who had been given shelter in the hotel by Paul escaped to refugee camps behind Tutsi lines. Men, women, and children who had been facing certain death at the hands of the Hutu rebels were safe thanks to the compassion of one extraordinary man.

The hell that was the Rwandan genocide lasted for 100 days. Over 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in the insanity. Yet, amidst the unspeakable horror of this ethnic cleansing, a quiet, unassuming, and compassionate hotel manager of mixed heritage ensured that none of the 1200 Tutsis who made it to his inn were among the casualties.

Could You Patent the Sun?

For those of us who did not experience the polio scares of the 1940s and 1950s, it is difficult to appreciate fully the extent of the fear and hysteria that swept the nation. The fact that so many children fell victim to the debilitating and deadly effects of polio added to the panic during the outbreak. A child who woke up one day with a stiff neck or a headache might by the next day be strapped in an iron lung, or paralyzed, or even dead. This was the nightmare endured by a generation of parents, a nightmare that turned into reality for too many families.

Polio outbreaks occurred in the United States throughout the first part of the twentieth century. A 1916 outbreak in New York City involving nearly 9000 cases caused considerable panic. Children were barred from public gatherings and the government stationed inspectors at rail stations to ensure that those who traveled had a certificate of health to prove they were polio-free.

But it would not be until the late 1940s and early 1950s that the epidemic reached its peak. By 1952, 57,000 new cases were reported. It was during this era that hysteria gripped the nation. Parents kept children away from public places and large crowds. They were not allowed to go to the public swimming pools and beaches. Misinformation about the transmission of the disease spread quickly, leading to all kinds of myths about polio. For instance, it was thought that entering cold water too quickly on a hot day or eating the wrong foods could trigger the onset of the disease.

In reality, transmission of the disease requires contact with either infected fecal material or saliva, and the virus can enter the body only through the mouth. For those living in substandard, unsanitary living conditions, the fecal-oral mode of transmission was most likely. For those in sanitary living conditions, oral-oral transmission, usually through exposure to saliva, was the primary path of infection. During the outbreak, nine out of ten people who carried the polio virus were asymptomatic and, thus, did not contract the disease. But in the remaining ten percent who did contract polio, the virus spread by way of the bloodstream and caused severe damage to motor neurons in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. Often, within a week to ten days of the initial symptoms of headache, muscle pain, and difficulty swallowing, the disease would progress to a point of paralysis. Images of quarantine wards filled with polio victims in iron lungs to keep them breathing, or children walking only with the aid of leg braces and crutches, highlighted the severity of this neuromuscular disease and heightened the anxiety of a public that did not fully understand the disease or how it was transmitted. Fear of the disease continued to rise in the 1950s and it soon consumed the thoughts of parents, who prayed their child would not be next victim.

Amid this panic, the medical world fervently searched for a polio vaccine. Among those engaged in the race for a vaccine was a relatively obscure virologist named Jonas Salk. After working on influenza vaccines early in his career, Salk, a doctor trained at New York University, moved to the University of Pittsburgh, where he took over the virus research lab. In 1948 Salk and his lab received a grant from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, better known as the March of Dimes, to study the polio virus and develop a vaccine. Franklin Roosevelt, the nation's most famous polio victim, had founded the organization in 1938.

Salk would approach the development of a vaccine from a different angle than other labs. He believed immunity could be induced by exposure to a killed virus. Other researchers were pursuing a vaccine using an attenuated virus, one that was weakened but still alive. Salk created a process that involved killing the polio virus using formaldehyde, keeping the viral structure intact. This rendered the virus harmless but still triggered an immune response.

By 1954, as the polio epidemic raged on, Salk was ready to test his vaccine. The first human trials of the so-called Pittsburgh vaccine involved polio patients. Then, after the success of these early trials, healthy volunteers, including Salk, took the vaccination. The positive results provided great hope that perhaps polio could be conquered. The final step was a massive trial involving one million children.

On April 12, 1955, researchers released the results of this ambitious study and the Salk vaccine, as it became known, was determined to be safe and effective. Immediately, the March of Dimes put a nationwide vaccination campaign in place. The scourge of polio was soon to be eradicated in the United States and a generation of parents could now breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the efforts of Salk and his lab.

The once-obscure scientist from the University of Pittsburgh instantly became a hero to a nation. But his greatness as a humanitarian was to surface as a result of what he said and did after his vaccine was validated. When the March of Dimes looked into pursuing a patent on the new vaccine, Salk objected, resisting the temptation to cash in on this miracle drug. In a famous interview, journalist Edward R. Murrow asked Salk who owned the vaccine. His response displayed humility and generosity: "Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Can you imagine a pharmaceutical company today providing that response?

Eventually the Salk vaccine was supplanted by an oral vaccine created by Albert Sabin and Salk moved on to other pursuits. He would establish the Salk Institute and promote research in molecular biology. The Institute today operates over sixty labs with a variety of scientific pursuits. Salk was active in research and humanitarian causes right up to his death in 1995 at the age of eighty.

A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow man.

Muhammad

Act II

In seventh-century Mecca, a prophet stands among an eclectic crowd that includes migrants, servants, and restless youth.

Dialogue

* To surrender completely and submit your whole being to Allah is the surest route to Paradise. Those things that hinder this commitment must be set aside. For that which seems important to you now will be meaningless at the end of your life. Possessions, power, fame, social standing—all of these are fleeting.

** If these things are fleeting, how are we to measure our lives? What actions must we take to find a path to Allah?

* A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow man. You must set yourself free from the chains of a worldly, material mindset and submit your whole being to Allah by seeking out those who are in need. To feed the destitute, to nurse the sick, to aid a stranger who has come upon hard times—these are the acts which are a measure of your true wealth. A life of charity will remain with you long after your possessions have been stripped away, long after you have lost your social standing, long after you have lost your authority.

** This is a noble ideal. It is certainly admirable to live a life of charity, but we live in difficult times. All our energy and resources must be directed toward our own survival and the survival of our families. How can we be expected to worry about the plight of those we do not even know?

* Allah has given everything to you. Prayer is your duty to Allah; benevolence is your duty to one another. You can reveal your submission to Allah by showing respect and love for your fellow man. Of course, this love must start with your family. During such complex times your own difficulties are often shared by others in your community. You will find that the love you direct toward others will return to you tenfold. For charity has no meaning unless it is a reflection of your love for Allah. All that you have and all that you are flow from that love. Just as Allah has provided shelter, food, and direction for you in your times of need, you must return the favor and shelter and feed the orphan, pity the beggar, guide those who are lost. Pray with all your soul to Allah and give with all your heart to those he created.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The ten Most Important things Ever Said by Dan D. Schinzel Copyright © 2012 by Dan D. Schinzel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue....................ix
Chapter One: It is your care for others that is the true measure of your greatness....................1
Chapter Two: A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow man....................15
Chapter Three: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves....................29
Chapter Four: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone....................49
Chapter Five: Sacred cows make the best hamburger....................67
Chapter Six: Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion....................83
Chapter Seven: Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children....................99
Chapter Eight: In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends....................121
Chapter Nine: You never really understand a person ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it....................133
Chapter Ten: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way....................149
Notes and Suggested Reading....................177
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