Stan the Man

Today I saw the New York Times obituary for Stan Brock; it cited an interview in which he was asked how he would like to be remembered 100 years from now. His answer was that he hoped nobody would remember who he was because “this would be a thing of the past.”

Of course he was talking about RAM, his gift to the world. It’s hard to imagine his wish coming true, partly because everywhere RAM sets up, far too many people line up than they can accommodate. A major shift in priorities would be needed for RAM to become unnecessary.

More important, though, is Mr. Brock’s understanding of the real meaning of service to one’s fellows. There was never any indication during his life that he thought he was more important than the organization’s mission. Escaping that ego trap is not easy, and our culture is full of examples in every field of those who have been caught up in the delusion that they are what is important, not the message they are trying to pass along or the job they are supposed to be doing. I could easily make a long list, and my guess is so could any of you.

The other list is shorter. Stan Brock, Jimmy Carter, Buckminster Fuller, the sisters Helen and Ellen who started the Love Kitchen, and already I’m searching my mind for more names. And that is as it should be. There is much good being done in this world by those not interested in headlines or monuments or personal gain. From the Native American teachings to the parables of Jesus to the Tao te Ching to the old guys sitting around at the farmer’s co-op, the message is clear — don’t get too full of yourself; if you do you miss the whole point.

Stan the Man. What he started was, and is, a very good thing for a great many people. If he was given to pride, it would be a legacy to be proud of. He wasn’t, and is all the more significant because of that.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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