Thursday, October 21, 2010

Putting Idealism to Work #160

PITW #160

Seek to have a hard head and a soft heart.

Having a hard head means being mentally tough, courageous, disciplined, and persever-ent in the face of obstacles. All great endeavors and all social change require people with hard heads. As Robert F. Kennedy said to a group of young South Africans, “The world demands the qualities of youth—not a time of life, but a state of mind, a temper of the will, quality of the imagination, the predominance of courage over timidity, and the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” At the same time, a hard head is best accompanied by a soft heart, by compassion, empathy, and understanding. A soft heart means being emotionally available and supportive to those in need. All social change also depends on people with soft hearts. Both qualities require the other. A hard head without a soft heart can lead to cruel-ty or a survival of the fittest mentality. A soft heart without a heard head can be overindulgent, condescending, and even patronizing.

Thoughts from Corps Member Jon Ragsdale serving at Winston Education Campus:
We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history. Amongst other issues, the achievement gap in education is widening.Quite frankly, the burden to solve these crises falls on the shoulders of my generation and the ones to follow. The tremendous growth under way in City Year and AmeriCorps as a whole--for example, by 2014 City Year DC plans to triple the size of its corps--is a testament to the increasing idealism and awareness of America's youth.We are inspired to serve by many different thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but at the core of each one of us are these two conditions.

First, we are hard-headed: we will not accept that the issues above exist and cannot be fixed. We can change the world for the better and we will.We will succeed because of our second condition: we all possess soft hearts. We care deeply about the under-served and the victims of unjust systems, and our sympathy and deepest love goes out to them in every action we undertake.The task before us is enormous, but with hard minds and soft hearts we stand ready to serve and ready to meet the world's demands.

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