These were the words of the baccalaureate keynote address at USC in Los Angeles. The address was delivered to the newly installed Archbishop José Gomez, who used Mother Teresa’s words as the center of his reflection. I have been to many graduations, and in general I find the speeches terribly boring and hypocritical, including one at USC many years ago at my brothers graduation. Graduation speeches are a world to themselves, and given the pervasive lack of quality of college education, anything that attempts to be inspiring, is based on ether. But this one, is worth a read, in full.
Recently I attended a conference, and during the panel discussion a similar longing to the one Archbishop Gomez describes, of an American who goes to India wanting to do good, emerged among participants. One of the speakers shared his work helping poor people in Africa and Central America. A sentiment arose, whether we all had to do the same, radical good and go off to a remote country to offset the profound evil and injustice in the world. Mother Teresa’s answer: “Grow where you’re planted”. This environmental metaphor captures an important lesson for us all, the first field of good in the world is ourselves and those close to us.