Two weeks ago I encouraged you to Live with Purpose and to make that purpose constructive. Amen to that. But what does a constructive purpose look like? Although the specifics vary from person to person, the overreaching sweep of a constructive purpose is based upon a common set of core values that transcend personality, culture, and even history itself. Most of recognize and understand those values; the challenge is to muster the courage to live accordingly. This Provision is designed to help you do just that.
As a teenager, I was an active part of the Boy Scouts of America. We had weekly meetings, went on monthly campouts, and fostered a strong set of values. In fact, those values continue to this very day. They are summarized in the Scout Law, namely, that a Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Although I have not been a part of scouting since those early days, those 12 values still sound pretty good to me and are still a part of scouting today.
It’s not easy to live by those values. It’s never been easy and it may be even harder today. Living by those values starts, of course, with claiming those values. P5: Live eople can have different values, or no values at all, and it’s important for a person to know what’s important. They do not have to be those 12 in order to be good values. But they do have to express and contribute to a positive sense of purpose. That’s what my Provision, Live with Purpose, was all about: defining what makes for a life-giving purpose and exploring how to get there. The two go hand-in-hand: the destination and the map.
Today I want to explore that notion a little further, with help from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. The Dalai Lama is currently participating in a two-day conference in Kyoto, Japan, sponsored by the Mind & Life Institute, titled “Mapping the Mind: A Dialogue Between Scientists and Contemplative Scholars-Practitioners”. If you have about 30 minutes, I encourage you to watch his presentation on YouTube (you can skip through the first 10 and a half minutes of introductory remarks to get right to his presentation).
HH the Dalai Lama makes a simple point: if we fail to live life-giving values then we fail to live at all. The two go hand-in-hand. And what are life-giving values? Here are the ones mentioned by HH the Dalai Lama: love, compassion, forgiveness, protection, tolerance, companionship, contentment, mindfulness, and respect for life (all life, including nature). Now that’s a tough bunch of values to live out and express adequately, let alone fully, but they are worth aiming for and striving to our best in realizing. Who wouldn’t want to live in that kind of world?
One person who set his sights on being that kind of person was former US President, Jimmy Carter. Regardless of what you think of his politics, its impossible to impugn his character. And that character expressed itself the day after he took office on January 20, 1977. With the sweep of his pen, he took an action that proved to be one of the most controversial things he ever did: he pardoned the so-called draft dodgers who escaped into Canada. And he did that before he even began to walk down toward the Oval Office for the very first time. It was, he notes in his memoirs, just the right thing to do. He took a lot criticism, obviously, because many folks thought the draft dodgers should be executed for treason and so forth. But once it was within his power to do so, he lived his values in the best way he knew how: he showed, mercy, understanding, and compassion. The same values extolled by HH the Dalai Lama.
Carter’s action was no small matter. An estimated 210,000 men were accused of draft violations, and about 25,000 of them were indicted. Many never registered for the draft at all. Tens of thousands of Americans left the country during the Vietnam War, most of them to Canada, although no one knows the exact number — Canadian officials didn’t ask immigrants about their draft status or keep records. Others fled to Mexico, or Sweden, or went underground in the United States. Some left after their draft numbers came up, some preempted the draft and left, and still others were students exempt from the draft but who left as a symbol of opposition to the war.
The pardon granted by President Carter meant that the United States could not prosecute those who hadn’t registered or those who had unlawfully resisted the draft. However, the government did not pardon those who had deserted or been dishonorably discharged, or protesters who had engaged in any violence. Carter’s pardon was criticized from both directions. Many people, including veterans groups, were dismayed that draft dodgers wouldn’t be fully punished. Civil liberties groups wanted to see deserters given full reprieve.
Despite the pardon, thousands of draft dodgers remained in Canada. They went on to become architects, lawyers, musicians, professors, reporters, and even officials in the Canadian government. In the 1970s, a senior aide to Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau hired a draft dodger for a top cabinet position, and felt no need to mention that information to the Prime Minister. The aide said: “He was cleared by security, he had Canadian citizenship by then, and he had not committed any Canadian crime.”
One famous draft dodger was jazz musician Bill King. During the Vietnam War, he was living in New York and working as the music director for Janis Joplin’s band. Four days after getting married, his draft number was called. He reported for duty on a day of national anti-war protests, so when he showed up at Fort Dix in New Jersey, everyone was on high alert. Twice the military police pulled King over and hassled him for having too much facial hair.
King was scheduled to leave on a 5 a.m. flight for Saigon, but the guesthouse was full so they refused to extend King the customary courtesy of letting his wife spend the night with him. King decided in that moment, then and there, to leave for Canada. He and his wife were smuggled out of the base under blankets by a sympathetic young man, and from there they hitchhiked to Canada. King went on to work with many of the leading rock and jazz musicians of his day, publish the international magazine The Jazz Report, and serve as artistic director for the Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival.
King’s story was just one of countless stories growing out of that crazy era in American history. If anything good came from that time, it was the 26th Amendment to the Constitution which lowered the voting age to 18 in 1971. There was just no way to deny the truth behind those countless anti-war marches that were filled with the slogan: “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote!” And so it happened.
I would encourage you to make it happen as well. Know your values. Claim your values. Live your values. HH the Dalai Lama is right: if we fail to live that way, we fail to live at all.
Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your values? What ranks at the top? How do they express themselves in your life? In what ways do they contribute to the betterment of life on planet earth? Who could help you align your values more fully?
Your last Provision, with the analogy to dancing, made me smile all over. I am a dancer and I have finally found a partner with whom I can not only dance but share a life. It’s so Godly that we found each other and so amazing that we both share the same amazing passion for dancing. Given the analogy in your last Provision, I just had to share. Thanks!
Love your last Provision on the gifts children bring to the adult world was magical. How great to be able to sit at the feet of angels!
I sooo enjoyed your last Provisions about seeing things through a child’s eyes. So “right on!” We have had 4 wonderful children and we now have 7 grandchildren. When I cook, I recall wonderful times when one of those kids were right beside me in the kitchen, making something yummy. And when I use one of my Mom’s handwritten recipes, it is like having her right beside me. Or when I work out in the garden I remember when we were all doing that together. I caught butterflies with my kids and we pinned them to boards. We got out field guide books and identified trees, flowers and birds and I am still doing that today. We camped lots. Your messages mean a lot to me. You are doing a very good thing, impacting many peoples’ lives for good and for God. Your thoughts matter! Thanks.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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