“I believe that it is impossible for a person to live a high life, a noble life in the future world, who does not live a high life in this world…And so, I want you to get the idea that each day brings to you a serious responsibility. You should try to get as much out of the twenty-four hours in each day as is possible for an individual to get out of twenty-four hours. Learn to get out of each day, out of the twelve hours of each day, just as much as possible every for one to get. Learn to get out of every hour, every year as much as it is possible for you to get. You have only one life to live; remember you pass through this life but once, and if you fail, you fail, perhaps, for all time. You should consider closely the serious obligation you have upon you to live properly through a day, through a year, and you should try to get everything that is best out of that day, out of that year.” -Booker T. Washington, “A Sunday Evening Talk”
Presidential Commentary by Dr. Brian Johnson
In perhaps one of the earliest Sunday evening talks the founding principal and president of Tuskegee (Institute) University gave at the onset of the New Year in 1901-for this talk was given on February 17, 1901-Booker T. Washington speaks not so much to resolutions but the “serious responsibility” and the “serious obligation” to live a life of consistency “each day.” (Character is nothing but Consistency. It is neither one’s highest moment nor one’s lowest moment. Character is one’s most Consistent moment.) And there is no more telltale sign for objectively assessing, counting, chronicling or journaling the consistency of one’s character than to evaluate what one does hourly, daily, monthly and yearly. For a new year is but a new day, and there are 365 of these. Moreover, the years accumulated into the respective time one receives in a singular life hopefully will constitute a life well lived, which is why Mr. Washington describes the use of one’s time as “serious.” The years spent in a well-lived life are often found in how the days, hours and months of one’s life were spent. And such was the life of Booker T. Washington who Tuskegee University honors in this the centennial year of his passing (1915-2015).
Brian L. Johnson, Ph.D.