Inspiration – An Educational Journey

As you begin to read this article, I want you to close your eyes and think back. I want you to think back to a time where you accomplished something. I want you to think back to what caused you to start dreaming of accomplishing whatever task you have just thought of. I am asking you to think of what has inspired you.

Inspiration. Where does it come from? All of us who walk the land and sail the seas of this Earth have been inspired by something. We may come from different cultures and different backgrounds. Our experiences and perspectives on life are wholly different as well. However, we are all bound by one thing on this planet – the human condition. One experience that we all are exposed to is inspiration. Think about it. No matter the road that we have traveled, we have – at some point – dared to let our hearts dream. We have dared to believe that we can be someone and accomplish something based on something that we witnessed or people that we have met. It does not matter if you are reading this in the United States or in Africa, the concept of inspiration unites us. Inspiration is universal.

Why am I speaking of inspiration and the power that is has to unite the inhabitants of our society? I speak of this concept for several reasons. First, in a day and age where what divides us tends to be what we notice, it is important to notice the small things that unite us – as we are a race and a species united in the final analysis. Second, I want you to think. I want you to think of what has inspired you in life and why. Once you understand yourself, you can begin to understand others. When we understand others, we can realize the bonds that unite us rather than the ideas that divide us. We can understand other entities of this life and we can understand the perspectives of our fellow humans. Recognizing inspiration only benefits society when we realize these points and when we use our inspiration to better ourselves and the world in which we live.

To illustrate what I mean, I would like to share what has inspired me. Those who know me know that I am deeply inspired by my family and my brother. I would like to share what else inspires me – education and a historical figure named Eugene Sledge.

While I am deeply involved in agriculture and athletics, my “day job” is in higher education. Why education? I work in education because I feel that it is my purpose, whether it be in business, agriculture or athletics. I was inspired by education. How? “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” These words, spoken by Nelson Mandela, are simple yet powerful. Receiving an education is a part of life that many take for granted, yet it is one of the most powerful things we will ever receive. In the movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is a line at the end that the states that the gold that the Native American tribe was looking for wasn’t monetary – it was knowledge based. In a world where our actions and public affair decisions are based on our knowledge, education is worth more than gold. Whether formally or informally, traditional or non-traditional, education is the key to many doors in life once we realize it. It is that purpose and that value that inspires me to work in the educational field.

So, who – you may ask – is Eugene Sledge? I never met Dr. Eugene Sledge, who passed away in 2001, but he is one person who inspired me to follow my heart and go into the field of education. Eugene Bondurant Sledge was from the southern United States and was a Private First Class in Company K, 3rd Battalion, Fifth Regiment in the First Division of the United States Marine Corp – known as “The Old Breed”. PFC Sledge was an ordinary man save for one thing. Sledge served in World War II in the Pacific Theatre and saw combat at Peleliu and Okinawa, two of the most intense battles that took place in the Pacific during World War II. In his later years, Sledge wrote a book on his experiences from notes taken in his Bible. His book With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, is widely regarded as the finest memoirs of a common enlisted man in combat. However, this is not what inspired me. It was the fact that after enduring the experiences that he did, he did what so many other did and returned to make a contribution to society. Eugene Sledge went on to obtain advanced degrees after attempting to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Dr. Sledge became a beloved Professor at the University of Montevallo. His journey into education and the purpose that he found in it inspired me.  I will leave a few links on Dr. Sledge below:

Eugene Sledge Biography – Encyclopedia of Alabama
Eugene Sledge Biography – YouTube

Eugene Sledge’s story helped me find direction. His story inspired me. I was inspired by a value system – education – and a story of a life, just like every other human who walks this Earth is. It has been a positive inspiration and I seek to better myself and the world around me by using my source of inspiration for good – not evil. So can we all. By bettering ourselves, we put ourselves in position to better the world around us.

Inspiration. Where does it come from? It comes from us – it comes from within. We all have it. We all have the ability to be inspired and to inspire others. It is a trait of the human condition that unites us. The end results of positive inspiration can bond us. Our moment of inspiration can help us discover who we are and help us find success. It can help us learn about ourselves. Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden once stated, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” By recognizing what has inspired us, we can truly understand what we are capable of becoming – both as individually and as a society. It all starts with an inspirational spark – a spark that we have all had ignited within us. What has inspired you? How do you hope to inspire others?


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