“We are each other’s redemption.” -Dean Koontz, One Door Away From Heaven

It’s almost Tuesday morning here in Hutchinson, and the last draft I sent of this column was lost when my computer crashed just before I could send it to the paper. So I’ve been forced to improvise with something I hadn’t originally intended to write about.

I don’t remember where exactly I first heard about the Paradoxical Commandments-I think it was in one of those little brochures at the libraries where they mention the new book releases, or in one of the same at Hastings, Hutchinson’s resident book/movie/music superstore. The story was incredible, though, and I’m going to reprint it here.

(Actually, I just remembered where I read it-the latest issue of People, the one with Robert Blake on the cover….)

They were written by a 19-year-old Harvard student in the late 1960s, a guy named Kent Keith. They were part of a pamphlet directed at high school student-council leaders, titled “The Silent Revolution,” and the book itself was intended to show how to work through the system to achieve change.

This, of course, went directly against the counterculture philosophy of the late sixties. Keith said he wrote them as a challenge to “always do what is right and good and true, even if others don’t appreciate it … [a challenge] to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don’t, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done.”

Although only 30,000 copies of “The Silent Revolution” were sold, Keith’s Commandments began to show up in speeches from student leaders and newspaper articles.

In the years since, they have spread throughout the world-and until recently, Keith’s authorship was forgotten, and the Commandments were attributed to a variety of sources-most notably, Mother Teresa, who had them hanging on a wall of Shishu Bavan, her orphanage in Calcutta.

They were also attributed to Karl Menninger, appeared in Ann Landers’ advice column, and used by Japanese Catholic missionaries. Chances are you’ve read them someplace as well at least once.

Finally, Keith’s authorship was recognized, and they have been released in a book titled Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments.

Each book comes with a copy of the Commandments in the front, in easy, convenient wallet size; and I have the feeling it’ll become the next Prayer of Jabez/Chicken Soup for the Soul style inspirational fad.

I question the need for a whole book built around them (especially when it’s priced at $19.95) when the Commandments themselves are simple and revealing enough. A book would be redundant-especially for the readers of the Free Press, now that I’m printing them here.

I’m a firm believer that things find you exactly when you need them, and I discovered this list at the end of a month marked by incredible turmoil for myself and those around me. They were like a drink of water, restoring my faith at a time it was tainted by bitterness and damaged by spiritual confusion.

Faith and perseverance are hard enough to hold on to in a world such as ours, and encouraging words from others can help keep us from giving in. After the past month, I believe that more than ever. I’ve seen it in action in my own life, and these 20 sentences are further proof of it.

There is wisdom in these words.


The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.

Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.

Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.

Give the world the best you have anyway.

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