This is the view from my office in The Wolf House, the name of our high school building. The second floor is yet to be inhabited. There are no desks, no whiteboards, and no students.
This view, without context, is rather uninspiring, but I cannot help, when I look down this hall, thinking about the future years, when the sounds of discussion, pages turning, and “thoughtful silence” will emanate from these doorways into my office. There might be times that I have to actually close the door.
The potential in our new high school program is limitless. The number of times that we will make a decision, and then make a subsequent decision, and another, is unlimited, and so the potential for where we could take this high school is also unlimited. There will be good decisions made and bad decisions made, and each decision will lead our program down a road that culminates in the eventual realization of potential.
A mundane picture of an empty hallway, in context, is very inspiring.
CS Lewis makes a similar comment about people in his book The Weight of Glory. He shares a view of people that is similar to the one I just spoke of with regard to the hallway.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
Every person has the same limitless potential, and that potential, when realized, will either be for tremendous good, or disaster and tragedy. This weight is particularly felt by the educator (or at least it should be), who daily takes the helm of directing what a student gives their attention to. However, Lewis argues that we should all feel this weight as we come into contact with people on a daily basis.
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
In a time when objectifying people as either tools for our own wish fulfillment, or enemies to be vanquished for some imagined “greater good,” or simply as obstacles that can be ignored or plowed over, let us all commit ourselves, in humility, to realizing the role we play in leading the people we come into contact with to their potential. Only love conveyed in humility will lead to a desirable outcome. Anything else leads to potential disaster.