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\”Passion\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (PASSION): A powerful emotion.

Unbridled emotions, more often than not, lead one into trouble. However, when tempered with reason, powerful emotions help define us as human beings. That was one of the lessons that the Star Trek generation should have learned from Captain Kirk. That theme was fairly consistent in all of the Star Trek episodes. However, I remember one show in particular in which Spock risked the life of one (his) to save the lives of many (his crew). That was noble and made sense, particularly to Spock’s analytical mind that looked at the number of lives saved versus the number certainly risked. Then in a later episode, Captain Kirk risked the lives of many (his crew), in order to save the life of one (Spock). Spock did not understand that some ideas are worth great risks, in this case the value of one single life. Standing in juxtaposition to Spock’s stoic analytical mind, Captain Kirk embraced his humanity and showed us that passion is part of the human condition—perhaps the best part. As the famous French philosopher, Denis Diderot, once wrote, “Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things.”

Anyone who achieved greatness is some worthwhile aspect of humanity most likely had a passion for his or her field. As communities of scholars, educational institutions should strive to develop a passion for learning in its students. Only those have embraced this passion will recognize that fact that learning should be a life-long endeavor.

Peak performance expert, Anthony Robbins, once challenged his listeners with this observation, “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.” As we think about what we want to do with our lives, whether we are young or not-so-young, if we want to excel in that endeavor, we will have to develop and embrace a passion for excellence. Of course, the one thing that we should all want to do with our lives is to make a difference and to excel as human beings. To do that, we will have to embrace our humanity and develop an unquenchable thirst for human perfection by leading a life of virtue. It will not be easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. Anthony J. D’Angelo

Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love for reading. Rufus Choate, Statesman

Man is only truly great when he acts from his passions. Benjamin Disraeli

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. John Welch, Businessman

All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire. Aristotle, Philosopher

There is no nation so powerful, as the one that obeys its laws not from principals of fear or reason, but from passion. Charles de Montesquieu, French political philosopher

Ask with urgency and passion. Arthur Balfour, Prime Minister

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life; the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. Bertrand Russell, Philosopher

Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness. Blaise Pascal, Philosopher

Passion holds up the bottom of the universe and genius paints up its roof. Chao Chang

The passions are like fire, useful in a thousand ways and dangerous only in one, through their excess. Christian Bovee, Lawyer

He who has no passion has no principal or motive to act. Claude Helvetius, Philosopher

With me poetry has not be a purpose, but a passion. Edgar Allan Poe, Poet

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us