By doing good we become good; and I know no surer way to this end. Keep your pupil busy with the good deeds that are within his power, let the cause of the poor be his own, let him help them not merely with his money, but with his service; let him work for them, protect them, let his person and his time be at their disposal; let him be their agent; he will never all his life long have a more honorable office.
The reason why I feel that this quote so wonderfully represents the work and duty of my life, or perhaps even the lives of everyone on earth, is that the definition of who is “the poor” shifts at every moment and space of time. Sometimes, nay, oftentimes, “the poor” are our family members. They are our friends, neighbors. For how can we render service to those with whom we are not acquainted? We must start with the poor among us. The poor in spirit, the poor in mind or body. Our children, the very infants we bring into this world, begin as the poorest and most helpless of all.
As we grow open to the idea that everyone around is is poor in some respect, we take upon us the mantle of some of the greatest men who have ever lived, even Jesus Christ, whose mission it was to take upon Himself the burdens of mankind’s sins, mistakes, and griefs.
If education’s aim was always to create pupils who looked after the good of others around them (not to the neglect of their own health and well-being), I do believe education would be transformed, for we would teach a way of being that would make of ourselves unselfish a people as possible. And I suppose that is the goal of BYU’s motto, “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” Perhaps we ought to say “Enter to serve and learn, go forth to serve and learn.” For is learning ever finished after one departs college? Probably not. And is service an activity exclusively for those who have finished their studies? Perhaps if our efforts to make our classrooms more collaborative in nature, more relationship-centric, we might enjoy a shifted paradigm from the one which is currently practiced.