What Have You Got to Lose?

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

This quote popped into my pre-conscious mind one early Sunday morning, a time where the essential has not yet been drowned out by the noise of the day. Knowing that this was, unfortunately, not an original thought, I did some digging and found it was written by a young Oregonian who, in 1956, died at 29 at the hands of the primitive Equadorian tribe he was working with (before that, a similar quote was attributed to a 17th century non-conformist preacher).

Surely the thought was meant to describe the tension between the temporal and the eternal. But it also works for the Peace Corps Volunteer when faced with the inevitable, unanswerable question: “So, why did you join the Peace Corps?”

The quote explains the pioneering spirit and to-hell-with-conformity DNA that draws certain Americans to shed the cocoon of domestic life and gain lasting experiences of dangerous adventure, World citizenry, and focused life direction.

For me, the quote captures the 34 years since I was in Papua New Guinea, and, in particular, the next four months anticipating my son Matt’s return from service in Zambia.

If you are considering an opportunity in the Peace Corps, do not think about what you could lose. Think about what you could gain.

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