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A Message from Larry Long for America.gov

At the end of every Elder interview I ask the elders to share some Words of Wisdom with the kids and, in that same spirit, the folks at America.gov asked me to write some words of advice. But this time they asked me to write them with the idea that the children of the world were listening:

It is often said that we stand upon the shoulders of those who’ve come before. No matter where we stand on this magnificent world of ours there are lessons to be learned from those who went before us.

Follow your dreams and trust the good intentions of your heart. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or others, anything is possible.

Larry Long in class with students

Learning is the key to success. Always do your best and surround yourself with people who love and expect the best from you. Unconditionally.

As a child two of those people were my Grandparents. Once after getting in trouble with some neighborhood kids, my Grandfather simply said, “A person is judged by the company they keep.” I never forgot those words of advice and have tried to live by them ever since.

My Grandmother seemingly jokingly once said, “Some people are so good, they’re good for nothing.” I believe that what she was trying to teach me with those words is to not take myself so seriously that I don’t listen to others who might hold a different point of view. And always keep a sense of humor!

Some who don’t intend to, tend to become over bearing or self-righteousness. Most wars and conflicts are started by these kinds of people. It invariably takes the kind hand of righteousness to put an end to it. Wars are horrible and children have nothing to do with it! That’s why it’s important to listen to our opponents and to walk a mile in their shoes.

Be cautious of those who claim to have ‘the answer’. The truth is most often found through the question. And one question invariably leads to another. It’s when we stop asking questions, that we most often get into trouble.

There is so much needless suffering and pain in the world. Often it is caused from reacting too quickly to disagreements. Instead of clinching our fists, we should open up our hands with generosity and kindness. If only we would think before we speak. We need to take a breath when we’re upset and then let it go.

When we’re overworked and tired that’s when we get in trouble. That’s why it’s an important discipline to get a good nights sleep. To get a good nights sleep, one must develop a daily regiment of exercising the body, mind, and spirit through the 5-R’s of reading, writing, arithmetic, running, and reflection! Perhaps most importantly, take a moment each day to give thanks for all the many gifts this wonderful earth provides.

Recently, I was told the story of a young boy who noticed that his Grandfather was deeply troubled. He asked his Grandfather, “Why are you so worried?” His grandfather said, “I have two wolves inside of me that are fighting. One wolf is filled with greed and anger. The other wolf is filled with kindness and compassion.” The grandchild thought for a moment and then asked, “Which of the two wolves will win, grandfather?” The grandfather reflected for a moment and said, “The wolf I choose to feed.”

In conclusion: Strive to achieve your dreams and to be the best that you can be! Always remember that there’s no one in the world exactly like you. You are needed. You are wanted. You are loved. Listen to your heart and to those who have your best interest in mind. You know who they are. Have a compassionate heart. Build your life upon the strong foundation of committing yourself to a world worthy of your children and grandchildren. Someday they will stand upon your shoulders to find their way.

Thank you for all that you do,

Larry Long, Executive Director
Community Celebration of Place