"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inspiration from a Trio of Hungarian Exiles

In a hidden and inspiring gem of a lecture on TED.com (itself, one of the most inspiring sites on the Internet), Ben Dunlap, president of Wofford College, a small Methodist institution in South Carolina, relates how a trio of Hungarian-American luminaries (including renowned composer Béla Bartók) helped shape his worldview.

Primarily this must-see lecture tells the story of textile magnate, Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian-American Holocaust survivor who rebuilt his fortune in America after the Second World War, and who humbly but determinedly integrated South Carolina's textile mills in the 1950s. Yet Dunlap extends the spiritual lesson that he was taught by Teszler ("that humans beings are fundamentally good") to include the lessons he learned from Bartók and Francis Robicsek, a polymath Hungarian-American heart surgeon and art collector who cracked the secret of the Mayan's hieroglyphic code.

There is "an irrepressible and insatiable appetite to know," Dunlap observes, reflecting on the wisdom he received from this trio of Hungarian exiles who took up residence in the American South.  "Live each day as if it were your last," he exhorts his audience, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. "Learn as though you will live forever." 

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