Friday, March 16, 2007

The value of martial arts

Some say that “a pessimist is an optimist with experience.”  According to the members of Optimist International, that’s just not true.  I had the privilege of speaking before a group of Optimists a number of years ago.  It was raining hard.  None of them brought umbrellas. They just knew that it was going to clear up.  I presented to them a Mayo Clinic study that described the significant correlation between pessimism, mortality and morbidity.  It seems that pessimists get sicker and die earlier than optimists. One can only imagine what the world’s population of pessimists was thinking as they read that article. 

As the Founder and Director of Kids Kicking Cancer, I have the ability to see regularly the impact of optimism and hope upon the lives of some amazing young heroes.  Using the martial arts, we train children to use their inner light and power to battle the pain, fear and anger of their disease.  There are three words that our students use as a mantra throughout our classes and individual pain interventions in the hospital: “Power, Peace, Purpose.”  These children learn that they have an incredible power within that allows them to be victors not victims.  They are taught how to blow out stress and create a place of peace inside of themselves so that they can partner in their healing.  Lastly they are allowed to understand that they have a great purpose in this heroic response.  They are teaching the world.

The goal of this column is to introduce you to our amazing young super heroes.  It is our purpose to share their capabilities with you, the NYSD readers out there who, may also benefit by learning how to control the stress, strain and pain of your lives.  If these kids can do it, so can you!  If that makes a difference in your life, then we will ask you to write me how you have been taught and influenced by them.  Some of these children will not respond to their chemotherapies.  You will help them to know that they have had a purpose in their young lives.  For the seventy percent who, with G-d’s help will heal, they too need to assign a purpose to the trauma of childhood cancer.  Your allowing them to know that they have had a positive impact on your life will help to empower them to proceed with the rest of their lives.  There is incredible power within purpose.

As the rain outside let up, I explained to our optimist friends that from our perspective, optimism does not mean that everything is going to be great.  We spend too much time in pediatric oncology wards to believe that.  Optimism really means that we can respond to everything with greatness:  “Power, Peace, Purpose!” 

Welcome to the Kids Kicking Cancer family.

Rabbi Goldberg