Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
When I was in social work graduate school, I had the great fortune and plain dumb luck to serve an internship with legendary social worker Felix Fraga. Felix is well known and admired for his decades-long commitment to public service.
By example, he taught me the most basic tenets of good public service:
Value other people.
Believe in the good in others.
Leave your ego out of it.
Felix would have an idea for a project. He would gather us – his staff – around and tell us his idea. We’d think of all the obstacles. He’d listen, not very patiently, but nicely. Then he’d say “Can’t we just try?” It was impossible to tell him no. Who would say we couldn’t at least try? Such a simple request. And, he’d always be so earnest and sincere. So, we’d try. And, most of the time, we were successful. I watched him use his same gentle, persistent, and impossible-to-refuse style on many, many people. He usually achieved his goals, which were never about him, always about doing something for someone else.
His voice and that phrase are part of my primal social work psyche. He’s in my brain, especially when I feel overwhelmed – Can’t we just try? Can’t we just be part of doing something good? Or being better? Or expecting better?
Yes, we can. And, yes, we’ll keep trying.