No. 590



While I could not verify this quote when I got to looking, I believe it was the late Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, who said, "To gain the advantage is the goal. You can't win without it." The definition of the word "advantage," according to the dictionary is: "Any circumstance, state or condition favoring success." When it comes to achieving success, which is the goal of most human beings in one way or another, we all seek to gain the advantage by maximizing our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses.

We see this principle personified in countless situations each day of our life. When it comes to digging a ditch, a backhoe is preferred to a shovel, a word processor is preferred to a typewriter, a car or truck is preferred to a horse and buggy and so forth. In athletics, the coach looks for natural ability, speed and strength in one player over another, especially when it comes to team sports. In the mental and physical realm, the greatest advantage of all is knowledge. This is why in a progressive society human beings go to school, college and beyond, to study, learn and work to gain an advantage.

Something I saw on television a few weeks ago got me to thinking about this principle when it comes to achieving real and lasting success in life. In nearby Little Rock, our state capital, located only a few miles from where I live, we have all the major networks. Again, to gain the advantage, they all have early morning shows, by one name or another, to get the day started off on a positive note. This past Christmas season, for 12 days leading up to the Blessed Event, one of these stations featured a different musical group from area schools.

On this particular day, there was a class of first-graders from Holy Souls School. They really looked sharp, the boys in their blue uniforms and the girls with blue tops and skirts that reminded me of a Scottish Bagpipe Marching Band. As I said, they were impressive and, for first-graders, did a great job of singing. The first number they sang was "Away in a Manger." I'm sure you are familiar with this Christmas song, but the first line goes, "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head."

When it comes to achieving success later in life, each of these adorable children has a tremendous advantage over many other children in our society. If you have never thought about this before, I would like to tell you why. First, Holy Souls is a Catholic school, and while their parents pay tuition, in addition to paying taxes, they are free to teach spiritual truths and principles that will help to prepare them for a successful life. As you probably know, public schools are limited in this respect.

Next, these children were up, dressed, probably had breakfast, and were in a television studio at 5:40 in the morning. In the vast majority of cases, these children come from a two-parent home where they have love, structure and discipline as a normal course of affairs. Less you misunderstand what I am saying, I am for these children 1,000 percent, because that's the American way. This tradition has helped to form the bedrock of our society for almost 200 years, and I pray that it will continue.

Here is my point, and the reason I am devoting most of my time and energy to helping some other children who do not have these advantages. Our "Bookcase for Every Child" project is designed for volunteers to reach children who are being reared in low-income families, and often in a single-parent home. While they are blessed to be living in America, where they are better off than two thirds of the rest of the world, they still do not have the advantages of millions of other children. These children had no choice in the environment in which they are being reared. If we don't help them, many will wind up in crime, prison, on drugs and even worse. The road we travel as a nation will be determined by what we do here. ---

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")