63% of US teachers buy food – for their students.

Three decades ago I spent two long and very happy summers in the US. I stayed at the home of a teacher, food was abundant, I had never eaten so well. I had the time of my life and developed an enduring love of the countryside and especially for the people I met and stayed with.

Yet now a survey has shown that 63% of US teachers are spending their own money on buying food for their students. And this in what is one of the richest countries in the world. According to a group called Share Our Strength 1 in 4 US children are facing hunger. That’s nearly 17 million children. The Economic Research Service found that 1 in 7 families struggled to put food on the table and 7 million missed meals.

How badly have we lost our way. These statistics would be unconscionable if they applied to a war-torn or thrid world country: but in a country where millionaires and even billionaires abound, it is almost unbelievable.

I know that America has a massive overdraft, it appears that it is in danger of more than just financial bankruptcy.

Saying thank you to your enemies…

I recently read a blog article about the value of saying thank you. In it the author wrote that as a business owner she had been thankful for the pressures of the past year since it fostered an increased leanness in her business.

The Dalai Lama exercising his famous patience.

Reading this I was reminded of a suggestion that we should thank our enemies. This apparently strange injunction comes from the Dalai Lama. His logic goes something like this: patience and compassion are two key virtues in a person (perhaps in a business too). Like any virtue they may be improved with practice. Who though gives us this opportunity for practice; our friends are unlikely to give us much cause for patience and compassion.

It is our enemies, the people who cause us problems, or seek to undermine us, the coercive or manipulative managers; these are the ones who provide us with opportunity to practice our patience and compassion.

And so, the Dalai Lama suggests that when next find ourselves confronted with such a character, we should thank them for enabling us to practice such important virtues.

Hmm, maybe! I am not sure I am completely up to that level of patience and compassion just yet – though courtesy of several people whom I will not name I am getting quite enough opportunity to practice. Thank you.