During our brief time on earth, and certainly on the campaign trail, reflecting on the diversity and expressed views of people is important. "I am a part of all that I have met," are the words of Tennyson in Ulysses. Each new person we meet makes an impression and imprint on us. Encounters can be inspiring or conversely a turn off. Sometimes they can be life altering. From my experience, looking someone in the eyes, touching hands while listening to their words is the best way to assess what is truly in their heart and convey what is in yours. Body language matters. Sometimes it simply takes a smile or a scowl to glimpse into another's soul or influence another human being, positively or negatively. Mother Teresa had the exceptional gift of seeing into your interior while expressing genuine singular interest in you. She influenced your soul to desire to be good. Relationship building for the long haul is one of the lessons to be learned from her life. Through her close personal relationship with Jesus, Mother Teresa continues to be a source of grace and light to humanity.
This September 5, 2016 marks nineteen years since Mother Teresa passed. It was announced that Pope Francis will canonize her as a saint that day. Her wisdom and exemplar practices of faith, hope, love and service to God and the world is inspirational to people of all mentalities and political parties. A part of her legacy is found in New York City, where against all odds and resistance from the public and private sector she opened the first Home for AIDS patients in America, right in the heart of Manhattan. I visited this place of grace and realized that Mother Teresa understood politics and the importance of less talk and more action, with prayer and persistence.
Politics is Personal
In 1997, coming from the hospitality and entertainment industries, politics took on a new meaning for my family and me. I was invited by Merv Griffin to join him and his special guest for lunch at his Beverly Hilton Hotel. Through AmericanTours International we worked together marketing his hotel to international visitors. It was an unexpected surprise when I walked into the private room he arranged and there was lovely Mrs. Nancy Reagan. Together they proposed I run for statewide office for the Republican Party. Soon after this encounter, my husband Gordon and I flew to New York to meet with Mother Teresa in the Bronx to ask her sage advice. She was visiting America to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in Washington D.C. and in New York visiting her missionaries and co-workers. Just as we pulled up and walked to her on that special day of June 18th, she let go of beloved Princess Diana with her right hand and took hold of mine with her left. She led us into the small ante-room near the chapel and we sat with her as Sister Gertrude stood quietly nearby. I told her that I had been encouraged to run for public office and asked her if I should. Without pausing Mother Teresa exclaimed, "Noel, you should, but don't forget the poor!" And then Sister Gertrude became very excited roaring, "I love politics. When I was young, I helped Gandhi get the British out!" We all prayed, attended Mass together and with a blessing we were on our way, trusting that the challenging effort to be undertaken was part of God's plan. No matter what the outcome, the victory was His either way.
Recalling a 1995 visit to Mother Teresa with our son Nicholas, these life and political lessons on the wall at her Home for Abandoned Children, Shishu Bhavan in Kolkata (Calcutta), remain worthy of consideration:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
How sweet is was to visit with Mother Teresa over the years and to be invited to her funeral in Kolkata. She passed September 5, 1997, one week after Princess Diana. As one of few Americans at St. Thomas Church on September 12 for the private service the night before the state funeral ceremony, I was seated on the altar facing her body laid to rest in a glass case. Father John gave the eulogy which struck me like a bolt of lightning. He said, "Mother Teresa was most concerned for the future of one nation in the world, which leads militarily and economically but was falling morally, The United States of America." Working tirelessly with her Missionaries of Charity and other faith-based charitable organizations to help those less fortunate in our nation is one way of making America great again, not forgetting the poor or our veterans, while also protecting our sovereignty and security.
Our first encounter with Mother Teresa was in New Delhi at a Young President's Organization (YPO) Conference at the Taj Hotel. My husband and I were moved to tears by this demure, yet incredibly strong woman. A "living saint" stood before us on the stage in her simple blue and white sari inspiring the 400 international entrepreneurs present.
Mother Teresa proclaimed,
"If each one of you would use the same drive you use to build your businesses to help others,
just think what a difference you could make for a better world!"
Business is Vision with Politics
For business people to enter the fray of politics, other than being a donor, is an enormous commitment of time and resources, but it comes natural for some. It is a true sacrifice especially for the candidate's family, but it is worth it if one is able to inspire people to participate in the process and become more patriotic and caring along the way. The words that describe the leadership qualities exemplified by Mother Teresa are "holy, humble and Christocentric". For the secular world, her personality traits are comparable with Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Master of Star Wars. Mother Teresa's self-less example offers a persuasive call to action. She inspired the creation of The Noel Foundation, helping women and youth most in need to become entrepreneurs, thereby promoting peace through economic development. Partnering with organizations like Hashemite Social Development in Jordan, under the extraordinary guidance of HRH Princess Basma bint Talal, helping Iraqi refugee widows start new careers and "Arab Youth Advance in Tourism" as a common sense, economic and security approach.
In 1990, I met Donald Trump through the kind introduction of our mutual friend, former First Lady of Hawaii, Jean Ariyoshi, in his office at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Donald was cordial, polite, and serious. Not as warmly expressive as his former wife Ivana, but just as genuinely interested in furthering women's opportunities for advancement. He was especially receptive to discussing their economic situation and entrepreneurial solutions for their success. To sum up his leadership style, "strictly business, strong handshake with direct approach and visionary purpose."
Upon reflection of this memorable first encounter with Donald Trump, I remember Harvard University contacted me shortly thereafter for my participation in a research project about "Men being 'single focus' and women being 'multi-taskers.'" As a CEO Mom of seven, somehow they got my number. In retrospect, I should have suggested they call Donald to testify to the theory of "single focus" as that was the lasting impression he made on me during our initial meeting. It is interesting to observe his campaign style and his "single focus" approach to winning support from many of diverse backgrounds while also upsetting others along the way. He is an extremely successful entrepreneur which understandably explains why he takes issue competing with "career politicians" who are viewed as happily spending other people's money, whether it be on campaign expenses or budget decisions that affect taxpayers. It is frustrating for accomplished business people to be treated disrespectfully when they enter the political arena, since most have hands on "management, marketing and media" experience and can hold their own and lead teams effectively. Actually politics for some successful entrepreneur CEO's is like being a fish in water, ever ready to swim with sharks!
Dogs Do Good
The colloquial expression "a dog with a bone" fits Donald Trump. In the Chinese culture he was born the "Year of the Dog." Notable "dog" attributes are to be loyal and trustworthy, man's best friend and defender. It says something about a man when he has a genuine affection for animals. And Donald must be a true believer because when his dog was sick, he asked for prayers with humility and offered gratitude. Maybe when he calls someone a "dog" he means it as a compliment.
Chinese New "Year of the Monkey" just began, reminding voters of the famous three monkeys from Japan: "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." Tough stuff for politicians-no more monkey business. Trump, et al: Remember Mother Teresa's campaign and life lesson, "The good you do today will often be forgotten, do good anyway!"
Brothers and Sisters, Alleluia, Amen!