“Al [Brandel] kept referring to kindness. Individual acts of kindness. Everyday Heroes. And reminded me of an experience I had many, many years ago. Forty years ago I was a senior warden of a church in Virginia and we were asked to take into our church as an assistant pastor a minister who had some difficulties in life. And we were asked just to take him in, let him serve our congregation for a while, and that he would probably move on. “We never asked what his problems were. We never asked what troubles he was having in his life. We took him in. And I’ll never forget, after he had been there about eight months, he was giving a sermon one Sunday and in the course of the sermon he said something I’ll never forget, and I’ve tried to live by this, and you live by this. He said to the congregation in a way that made it clearly autobiographical, he was talking about himself, ‘Always show more kindness than might seem necessary, because the person you are extending it to needs it more than you will ever know.’ That’s what Lions have been doing for all of these 90 years. “Always show more kindness. Reach out, touch. And never have we needed it as much as we need it today. Not only here in the United States where with our economic difficulties there’s a greater need for people to step forward and volunteer. “This is an interesting time to be alive. Rather than military strategy determining the future it is going to be: Who has the most effective economy? How can we create more wealth, not just for those at the top, but wealth that will lift people up out of poverty, wealth that will take care of health care, wealth that will educate people, but above all wealth that will give hope to people that there is a better life ahead? Wealth that will be created by free economic systems, wealth that will be shaped by government, but let there be no doubt: It is the private sector, the non-governmental sector that is going to be an important part of lifting people up out of poverty, and the Lions Clubs International will play an enormous role in this wealth creation and lifting-up out of destitution.” “I think there are two types of greatness. The second type of greatness is what’s happening here, today, where you receive awards and accolades, where you are selected to stand out. The primary greatness is what you do everyday and that’s the most important greatness that any of us can achieve where we align our values with the way we live our lives. And you’ve got a fairly tall order to follow. Yesterday, I heard some of the values that drive Lions, the value that ‘we serve,’ compassion and integrity. We work as a team and we perform miracles. They are the values that you have outlined for yourself, and they are the values that you must live everyday. “You [Lions] are the guardian angels for so many as was said yesterday. You change lives everyday in every continent. You serve. You model one of my most pressing messages as I go around the world. You model my belief that there is only one race, the human race and, as Martin Luther King Jr., who is one of my heroes, said, ‘We must live together as brothers or perish as fools.’ Confronted by the words, and I will leave these words with you, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. He challenged us in this way as he said, ‘Every person must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or the path of destructive selfishness.’ Lions, you have chosen to walk in the light of creative altruism. Please for the sake of so many people out there hidden in the darkness. Please keep shining that light on the dark places of our world.”
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