Saturday, 14 August 2010

Words To Live By



What's the purpose of a school motto? I often wondered this as a child.

The popular method of picking a few choice words in Latin is quaint if a little pretentious - but my secondary school had its motto in English, and that seemed even more pointless. At least with a Latin motto, you get a few words of Latin seared into your soul.

My school's motto was Therefore, Choose. The school website says it's from Deuteronomy, and a quick search on BibleGateway finds the wider context: "I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

Mostly, while I was at school, I completely ignored it.


Yet now, as an adult, every now and then I catch these words echoing in my mind, reminding me of obvious facts: I can choose how to handle whatever situation I find myself in. I can choose how to react to those around me. Ultimately, I can choose the person I want to be.

Pretty powerful stuff, from just two words.

Did your school have a motto, and do you remember it? What words do you live by?

23 comments:

ladyfi said...

Wow - that is a powerful motto. My school had a motto, but not one that I can remember!

Words I live by?
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. -- Dalai Lama

Stephanie V said...

My high school motto: "A healthy mind in a healthy body" always, always written in Latin. I can't remember who translated it for us. probably my Latin teacher.

University: "Tuum est" which was always translated as "It's up to you". I found that motto to be very true if not exactly inspiring.

SilverNeurotic said...

I know my high school had one, something like "Enter to learn, go forth to serve". I'm fairly certain my college had one, but I don't recall it. I'll have to log onto their website to see if I can find it.

The Seeker said...

Indeed powerful motto.

I try to live with the Reiki principle, not that I always succed, but at least I try......

Thank you so much for dropping by my blog and left such nice comment.

Following you on Google, keep in touch if you feel like it.

xoxo

Kathryn said...

My words are an approximation of Latin, chosen because I love how they sound. Carpe Omnium - Seize everything!

They reflect a way of seeing the world as being so full of possibility that you can't help but be positive.

http://www.kathrynashcroft.com/4/category/inked/1.html

Sam Liu said...

Very true, Rachel, the simplest of words can have a long and lasting impact on one's life. I like your school's motto, very poignant, its simplicity is wonderful.

My school's motto is, "Fide et Labore" which is Latin for "Faith and Work". I suppose it fits, given my school is a Church of England school. Though I don't think it will have much of an effect on me as I'm not religious :)

Livia said...

High School: Sciencia ad faciendum (learning by doing)

College: Veritas (truth)

Grad School: Mens et Manus (mind and hand)

I seem to attend schools that like dead languages.

Ruth said...

Hey Rachel, thank you for your comment on my blog. it made my day..:)

love your school's motto. i remember mine was Learn, Lead, Succeed.

a new follower now.!

lackofgravitas said...

I don't remember any of my schools having a motto, although looking it up apparently the current motto of my sixth form college is 'Your college of choice'. Ugh. My university's was (is) 'fiat lux', let there be light.

Domestic Executive said...

This post prompted me to look up my school motto again.

Nisi Dominus Frustra "Without the Lord, everything is in vain"

I had forgotten it's Christian roots and this motto certainly didn't have much impact.

liliannattel said...

If my high school had one, I don't remember it. I can't say that there is one phrase that has guided me throughout my life, but I'm familiar with that passage and I've thought of it at times.

Andy Cater said...

Nisi Dominus custodiet civitatem, frustra eius vigilat - [Except the Lord keep the house, they labour but in vain that build it] Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain - Ps. 127 (says Google) Ps 126 (says the Vulgate, probably).

Cue for a furious, futile argument with an English teacher when I used "except" in the above sense and she refused to credit it :D - the perils of being a literate choir boy

Primary school - Perseverantia vincit - perseverance overcomes.[Berkhampstead School]

Possunt quia posse videntur - They are able because they are seen to be able / "they can because they think they can" - Christ['s] College, Brecon

Semper juventutis memor - Ever the memory of youth - Wellingborough Grammar School, which I joined as it joined the Girls High School.

Vim promovet insitam - Learning promotes one's innate power - University of Bristol.

I like the quote from another correspondent of HH the Dalai Lama. I also like the adminishment given to us as choirboys at the end of the service in the vestry, which goes back 1500 years or so to St. Augustine of Hippo -

"Vide ut quod ore dicas, corde credas et operis comprobes" - See that what you say with your lips, you believe in your hearts and show forth in your daily lives.

Andy Cater said...

Following up to myself: Polycarp in the code of canon law: tenth canon from the fourth council of Carthage (398 CE) - See that what you sing with your lips, you believe in your hearts. Also used in the Roman Missal 1598 apparently. [Per the Royal School of Church Music]

My hazy recollection of Ps. 127/126 isn't quite good enough in the Latin, but the Englishing is pretty much correct :)

[Ps. 126 used in the Ambrosian Little Office of the BVM]

Kel said...

What a great motto to have, learn, and live by. A motto like that, unfortunately, would never be allowed in a US school. I remember our ridiculous motto that they made us say daily, "It's time to learn. Everyone can!"

ScoMan said...

My school didn't have a motto. Not many Australian schools do. Maybe some of the REALLY snobby private schools. And maybe in the city.

Zodiac Facts on Twitter just gave me words to live by.. the Scorpio mantra apparently..

"I spy. Then do or die"

I don't know what it means, but it sounds cool.

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I don't think my school had a motto. If they did, they should have done a better job advertising it.

I always think about how I can choose to react to a situation. It's a good way to take control of your life.

Dave King said...

I think if I had been the one choosing the school motto I would have added the word "life". Good post.

Jacqueline said...

Our motto was 'Wyse an’ Wycht' which means intelligent and strong. I'm happy to go along with that :)

Velva said...

I cannot remember my high school or university motto. However, the words therefore, choose are quite powerful. Especially, once the context is understood. Your description was perfect. It's a way of life we strive for- I know I gently remind myself of this on a regular basis.

btw, the pickles are usually gone before I can store them. They are quite good and easy to eat. I would guess you could store them for a couple of days.

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

I did not know what mine was so I looked it up. Owning the Opportunity - I kinda like that. Perhaps those are words to live by! (Great post!)

Genevieve said...

My elementary school's motto is "if it is meant to be, then it is up to me." It is a famous quote that goes hand in hand with my mom's saying, "God helps those who help themselves." Made me grow up knowing that if I wanted anything I had to make it happen all by myself.

Tabor said...

My school had a motto but being that was 50 years ago when I was there...I do not remember it. (50 makes me sound ancient but I do run 3 miles several days a week...just to erase the prior image out of your mind.) Anyway, the motto I always remember was carpe diem which came into my life several ways.

Deirdre said...

Very true.

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