At the Mission Roundtable lunch at the University of St. Thomas School of Law on Wednesday, the speaker was Judge Anne McKeig, the first Native American to be appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court (and the first female Native American to serve on the high court of any state). Her remarks were both sobering – some of the statistics regarding the plight of Native Americans in Minnesota are shocking – and inspiring to our students.
At one point in her talk, she quoted Maya Angelou’s words: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
I was reminded of those words at the gym yesterday. While I exercising on the elliptical machine, The Bucket List was on the television screen in front of the machine I was on. At one point in the film, the Jack Nicholson character and Morgan Freeman character are in Egypt, sitting in a high place with a view of the pyramids.
The Morgan Freeman character shared with his friend that the ancient Egyptians had a belief about death. They believed that when the soul got to the entrance to heaven, the gods would ask them two questions, the answers to which would determine whether or not they would be admitted. The two questions were: Have you found joy in your life? And, Has your life brought joy to others.
I have no idea if there was any such ancient Egyptian belief. But I do think both questions are good ones. It was the second of the two that brought me back to the Maya Angelou quote.
Perhaps we might ask ourselves the question today, asking it in the present tense: Is my life bringing joy to others? Or, in Angelou’s phrasing, what do people remember about how I make them feel?