Tag Archives: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, In Memoriam

Maya2“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s quotations have influenced my inner dialogue for several years.  It wasn’t just that she reduced philosopy into pithy and pertinent sayings; more, it was that her conversations were homilies. Her ease and acceptance with herself and the world around her created an object lesson that was easily assimilated.

Her belief that life was a series of lessons from which we all learn helped me quiet my inner critic. She helped me comprehend that although I have made, still make, and will continue to make huge mistakes, I am not malicious or evil. I am a student of life who wants to live to my greatest spiritual potential. The rocks in the road that trip me up are those things that need my attention. They are route corrections for me to assimilate in order to keep moving forward.

I am thankful for all the gifts she has left for me to open as I am ready. Her words and her example are lasting legacies.

The Student





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Filed under More Teachers, When someone tells you who they are, believe them, When we know better, we do better

Being Human

“I am capable of what every other human is capable of. This is one of the great lessons of war and life“.  Maya Angelou

Since I watched Maya Angelou on Oprah’s Master Class and heard a paraphrase of this quote, I have spoken, examined, espoused and cringed at the statement. If any human being perpetrates an act, then as a human, I am capable of perpetrating that act. It’s difficult to go acknowledge.

When I read about the atrocity of war, I don’t want to comprehend that I could do such things. When I read about rape, when I hear about gang violence, when I follow the trials of those who have murdered in cold blood…I don’t want to imagine myself being inhumane.

Recently I have been studying in a free online Social Psychology class on Coursera*.  I now understand more of the science behind what she learned through her experiences. I understand that unless we comprehend the reasons for our own behavior as humans, we are again capable of being a part of or witnessing another holocaust, or Ruwanda, or Congo. Being a part of genocide is not beyond us.  Standing by and not preventing it when we have the power is also possibility.

I feel that I must make it personal. I must question authority. I must examine my beliefs. I must pay attention to what happens  in my daily life to the people I see. And I must acknowledge how I react to these things.

I am capable of great destruction. And I am capable of great good.

The Student

*check it out at coursera.org

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Filed under Master Class, etc., Quotations, Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

A Look at Judgment

In the split second that I look at my friend and think, “How could she?”, I am creating a distance.

When I scoff to myself and think, “I wouldn’t…”, I am lying to myself.

When I (easily) get in this mode I remember Maya Angelou’s assertion in her Master Class.  It resonated with me and chastened me when she said that if we are human, we can’t possibly say we wouldn’t do what a human being has done.

Of course, my mind immediately went to the serial killer who took my niece’s life.  It went to the child molester.

What I should be considering is my day-to-day life and my judgement about the people I love.

I know this lesson well.  I know that if someone irritates me, I should look carefully at myself to recognize the behavior in myself.  I’ve written about it before and know that I will again.

And how far is the gap between judgment and love?  How difficult is it to bridge the rushing river of critical thoughts which lets me to think I can do better? Or that my friend should do better?

The truth lies in loving myself first.  In being so sure that I am a cherished child of God and the universe that I needn’t put myself ahead or behind.   That I needn’t feel sure that I am better…or worse.  That I needn’t compare myself and come up ahead.  I needn’t compare myself at all.

Perhaps it will be nirvana when I can smile at my friend and wish her well with no thought to change her, correct her, or hope for better things.

Or it will be true love.

The Student

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Filed under Master Class, etc.