I know I am stepping on shaky ground, but I have reached a point in my life where I feel free in voicing my opinion. As I look back on my lifetime of study and experiences, I feel I have a pretty good grasp on what I am about to share with my readers.
My first premise involves the ideal citizen and a Greek philosopher who lived thousands of years ago said it best. Allow me to quote him:
"He who is only an athlete is too crude, too vulgar, too much a savage. He who is a scholar only is too soft. The ideal citizen is the scholar-athlete - a man of thought and a man of action." - Plato.
During my years in high school and college, I had the privilege to be involved in sports with some teammates who were very intelligent, but they didn't have an athletic bone in their bodies. Still, they gave it their best physical effort and later became very successful professionals who had no problem overcoming failure and dealing with pressure, having experienced it as athletes.
Oh, yes, student-athletes are the most well-rounded individuals who are better prepared to face the many challenges of life as adults.
My second premise is what I believe to be the three noblest professions. I am sure some readers will disagree with me. But as a former sports competitor, baseball umpire, wrestling official and coach of three sports, who has been exposed to the most extreme athletic situations, I am quite immune to criticism. Those who disagree probably had an isolated negative experience, and are not considering the big picture. And, of course, there are incompetent (even evil) individuals in all lines of work.
So, here we go. The following are my picks for the three noblest professions, and not in any particular order of preference.
Dedicated teachers throughout the years have molded the minds of many outstanding men and women who changed the world for the better - the likes of Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Jonas Salk, George Washington Carver, John F. Kennedy, Sally Ride, Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks ... and I could go on and on.
I'm not just talking about K-12 classroom teachers, but also the religious educators in all faiths who strive to develop individuals into moral and ethical leaders in our society.
Sincere teachers are the men and women who are devoted to educating future generations to succeed in all endeavors and professions. They have the ability to bring out the best in their students.
You ask any individual who excels their careers, and they will tell you about a teacher, coach, minister, priest, rabbi, etc. who had a tremendous influence on their lives. The foundation for all other occupations is built in one educational setting or another.
Devoted teachers prepare their students for the joys and sorrows of life. They also entice students to develop compassionate hearts as well as logical and disciplined minds. In essence, teachers inspire students to become builders of a better world by day and dreamers of Heaven by night.
One of the most sophisticated professions is medicine, and rightfully so. Doctors are the men and women who have been trained extensively to cure the body and spirit. They daily perform feats of surgery and mental therapy that return their patients back to living quality lives.
Of course, doctors haven't vanquished all diseases, but they have totally devoted themselves, via research and development, to discover the answers to the more serious and life-threatening physical and mental ailments.
It deeply disturbs me when I hear people "bad mouth" the medical profession, be it physicians, clinical psychologists, or psychiatrists. In my opinion, such negative outbursts are unfounded. These naysayers fail to perceive the truth, and that's the fact that doctors have healed millions of people of physical, emotional, mental disorders for centuries.
The layman has no concept of the complexities of the human body and mind. To me, doctors are "miracle workers," performing intricate procedures on the body and mind that none of us could even begin to imagine.
Caring doctors not only cure the body and mind, but they also touch the souls of their patients. As Dr. Jonas Salk put it, "I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more."
The Armed Services
Nobody can debate the importance of living in a free society. But that didn't happen overnight or without a fight. It was American warriors who saw to it that we would have that freedom at the beginning of our existence as a nation. And many of them gave up their lives for this to happen.
Then there was our country's tragic Civil War, in which 600,000 Americans, both black and white, gave the supreme sacrifice so that we would truly be a free country for everyone.
Of course, it did not end there. In the 20th Century we experienced two world wars that again kept us and our allies fighting for freedom. We all know that freedom is mankind's fundamental dream. It allows us to speak our piece without fear of retribution; that's our right as citizens of the United States of America.
We should count our blessings, but most of us take it for granted, myself included. Unless one has faced death in battle to preserve freedom, he can not truly understand the price of freedom.
Oh, yes, the armed services is one of our noblest professions, and we should have so much gratitude for their efforts to protect our country and the freedoms we are allowed to enjoy. None of us could ever thank our young men and women in the military enough for doing their duty to keep us safe and free.
We should always cherish, respect, and be thankful for the undaunted services of those individuals that I contend to be our three noblest professions - teachers, doctors, and those in the armed services.
Don't you agree?
Welker is a retired reading specialist who was a K-12 classroom teacher for 40 years. He was selected as a "Teacher of the Year"
by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce. He also is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has written hundreds of articles and two best-selling books on the subject. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.