Celebrate Positive Choices Month

[Webmaster’s Note: St. John’s Abbey has been under scrutiny for years because its members have done far more to protect the community’s reputation than help victims of misconduct. Fr. Tim Backous explains the thought process that allows this to occur.]

“…we choose to act one way and avoid another not because it will get us fame, fortune or power but because it is good for the community.” – Fr. Tim Backous

Celebrate Positive Choices Month

by Timothy Backous, OSB, Interim Athletic Director, Saint John’s University

In his book, Little House on the Freeway, Tim Kimmel quotes Eleanor Roosevelt as saying, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape our selves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” I have always considered my every day choices as my responsibility but to call them a reflection of my life’s philosophy is intriguing. In effect, what Mrs. Roosevelt describes is the ideal of Benedictine life.

In community, we choose to act one way and avoid another not because it will get us fame, fortune or power but because it is good for the community. Our choices, both the simple daily type and the “big picture” variety, express a philosophy that everything we do must serve our brothers and sisters.

It occurred to me that this way of thinking might help not just monastics but everyone who lives in community be that an academic one or a familial one. Making the choice to wear a seat belt, to quit smoking, to lose a few pounds, to be regular in exercise—-all these express a love and concern for those to whom we are important. It demonstrates awareness that we are all connected, not just in superficial ways but in a much deeper, meaningful ways. It is a philosophy that says through actions “I will take care of myself for you.”

This is obviously a work in progress. Each and everyday we have the chance to make good and wise decisions that help us and our community grow stronger and happier. As we begin the new school year, let us once again embrace the responsibility that comes with being adults to make healthy choices. But this year, let us acknowledge that we do it not only for ourselves but for the common good.

Published September, 2003

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Topics: Tim Backous

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