The universe has a sense of humor. Recently I had read that Albert Einstein, when asked to identify the most important question in life, said, "Is the universe a friendly place or not?" Shortly, after reading the question on which I was going to reflect, my computer began dinging, the equivalent of you’ve got mail. It is the beginning of the semester where I teach part time and as with every semester, students are stressed because something has not come in yet. This normally means that either their financial aid has not come in or the books they ordered online have not come in yet.
So is the universe a friendly place or not? I would like to believe that overall the universe is a friendly place. If I had to evaluate it, I would probably give the world an 8 out of 10. Are there parts and people in the universe who are not friendly? Sure, however, I am choosing to believe that the majority of the people in this world are friendly and are committed to making this world a better place.
So what am I doing to help keep the universe’s friendliness rating at an 8 out of 10? A thing that to me is relatively easy and requires little of me, but to my students it elevates my “coolness” factor. So I took 10 minutes out of my night, found and uploaded three of the five assigned readings, responded to a few emails and met one of them in my virtual office for a few minutes. It made them feel welcomed, important, and let them know that I cared about their success as a student. Maybe that is the difference between the act of teaching and being a teacher.
I don’t do what I do because I care about my “coolness” rating or factor. I think about what it was like decades ago when I was an undergraduate student and what it was like the first week of classes and then I try to respond to their concerns. I can’t make the financial aid come in faster. I can’t make the delivery services bring their books to them faster, but I can take 10 minutes to upload a few readings and make the world seem like a friendlier place.
Reflecting on how I practice hospitality seems hard to do. People tell us all the time that they feel loved and welcomed when they enter our doors. For that I am grateful, however, I am not sure what we have done to create that feeling other than to be who we are and to treat others the way we would like to be treated. I guess that means we practice the Golden Rule, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.
It is easier; I think to think about what others have done that have made me feel like the universe is a friendly place. I can think about the times when I was sick and people cooked meals, sat with my wife at the hospital, came to visit, cleaned our home, and called to remind me that my work here on earth was not done. I can think about the times people have welcomed us into their homes, made them accessible for me, performed random acts of kindness, smiled, said hi, or just did something simple like open a door or press the handicap accessible door button.
So how would you answer Einstein’s question. Do you think the universe is a friendly place? On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate the friendliness factor and what are you doing to practice hospitality in this world.