Do No Harm Is Not Enough
By Jeremy Gulley
Facebook went public this week, making a lot of people very wealthy. Their business is worth billions of dollars, and their success has been celebrated very publically this week. Congratulations to them.
In contrast to news of Facebook’s amazing success, this week I also stumbled upon the story of Sir Nicholas Winton. Winton is a British humanitarian who nearly single handedly rescued 669 children, mostly Jewish, from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia.
Winton worked as a stockbroker in London. In 1938 he visited a friend in Czechoslovakia and realized the urgency of the political climate in the area, and the danger the Jewish citizens faced from the Nazis. Immediately, Winton established an organization to aid Jewish children find homes in England so they could avoid being sent to death camps with their families. While the children escaped, most of their families perished. But because of Winton, 669 children escaped death at the hands of the Nazis and grew up to live long productive lives.
Here is the interesting part, however – and where the contrast to Facebook becomes so interesting. Winton worked tirelessly to help children escape to England, and he also served as an airman with the British military during WWII, earning the rank of flight lieutenant. Though he accomplished so much, and impacted so many lives, he never told anyone.
In 1988, Winton’s wife, Greta, was looking through some papers and found a scrapbook containing names of children he had helped save, as well as their parent’s names and the names of the families that took them in. Letters were sent and 80 of the children Winton helped rescue were found. During an episode of a British television show called That’s Life Winton met these survivors and was given credit for the amazing work he undertook in WWII.
Even after he was recognized, however, Winton still remained humble, pushing praise from himself onto others who worked with him, especially those who worked in Czechoslovakia.
When asked what advice he would give to younger generations, Winton replied: “don’t be content in your life to just do no wrong, be prepared everyday to try and do some good.” But also, based on Winton’s example, don’t go looking for a pat on the back, either. I think Winton’s story shows us that doing good and getting credit don’t go together. When we look for credit, we end up getting it – but it’s shallow and passes quickly.
I want to be like Winton, not like the founders of Facebook.
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