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Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

Recently, I’ve thought about characteristics that make people stand out. William Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Among the characteristics that can make a person great are charity, courage, and duty.

Charity has been defined as providing help and/or raising money for those in need. Olivia Newton-John (1948-2022) was charitable. She raised funds for breast cancer research as well as environmental and animal rights causes. Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE was honored with the title “Dame,” for her “services to charity, cancer research and entertainment.” This honor was one of the highest a citizen of Great Britain can obtain – it is a knighthood. The post-nominal letters “AC” represent the Companion of the Order of Australia, and the post-nominal letters “DBE” stand for Dame Commander in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, both awarded in 2019. Newton-John was a talented woman who had a heart for the world around her. She left behind an excellent example of charity.

Courage may be defined as following one's convictions or the confidence to act in accordance with one's beliefs. Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022), for example, was willing to move the Soviet Union from a state of Communism to democracy and respect for human rights. Gorbachev played a key role in dismantling the Communist grip on power in both the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1990. Though he was removed from Presidential office in 1991 during a failed coup attempt, he continued to promote social justice and raise concern for the environment through his own organization, the Green Cross. Mikhail Gorbachev was a thoughtful, courageous man; a different leader might not have been willing to relinquish power, allow press freedom, and move the economy towards democracy.

Duty has been defined as a moral or legal obligation or responsibility. Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) lived a life of duty. She was the Queen of the United Kingdom for 70 years. Her death, though anticipated, was sad. Her life could not have been easy, but she carried the responsibilities of the crown well. Royals have nowhere to hide; their lives are under constant scrutiny – certainly not the kind of life most would choose. I believe Queen Elizabeth would have been happy not to have been the one to reign. Yet, she lived a life of service, and I respect her life of duty.

Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Olivia Newton-John, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Queen Elizabeth II were unique individuals, each exhibiting responsibility. And charity, courage, and duty cause these individuals to stand out.


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