It is hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.

Dolly Parton

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True enough.  Excellence has its way.

Excellence by nature is lonely.  Most people settle for the herd, such is the social instinct and fear, and temerity, and laziness.

Not that those who strive for excellence create that longing.  Make no mistake, those who are excellent are made to strive for excellence; that is their identity. Excellence is in their DNA; they are made to express excellence in human life, their mortal existence.  They carry a drive that cannot be silenced or shelved, lest they suffer greatly having denied what is in their soul.

Excellence means, by definition, that you will not fit in.  Be prepared to be different.  Yet on your road you will meet the few like you – and oh, how that brings joy and great amusement.

Those who seek excellence accept life in its good and its bad, its darkness and light.  Excellence, you see, rests on experience.  It thrives on experience as a mighty teacher, the cup of wisdom and source of insight and understanding.

Experience is the fertile soil of excellence that produces leaders, heroes, wisdom figures, the compassionate ones, the great teachers and original thinkers, those worth listening to, saints and martyrs, the best, most instructive storytellers.

To seek excellence is to seek Truth.  Seeking excellence is a faith statement, an act of hope.  Those who seek excellence live an eschatology – in belief, undaunted, without fear.

Virtue travels with those who seek excellence.

The quest for excellence sharpens one’s sense of justice, demands rigor and discipline in thinking, in character, in daily life.

Those who seek excellence need no rules of ethics.  They live by morals and honor in all that they do; for excellence is possessed by those whose souls are good by nature.

There was a time when excellence was part of American culture.  It is less so now.

Now we love to be victims, love the handout, the complaint, the Nanny State and its promises.

Institutions often reject the excellent.  For those who excel set standards that disturb the comfortable.  Sadly, this is no less true in religious life than in other institutions.

The quest for excellence is an individual call, as all divine initiations are.

Now in America, rather than excel, we fear and carry grievances (some purely imagined) and let them dominate us – all the better not to be challenged we now think.

Today we seek group identity – but no excellence comes to those in groups, nor where the lowest common denominator governs.

There is no excellence in socialism, communism, large bureaucracies, large central governments and their endless self-contradictory rules, nor in political slogans and reductionist ideologies.  Excellence, you see, is organic and intimate in nature – it resides in you.  It is an instinct to live fully, in the glorification of having been given life.

Yes, now we seek explanations as to why we cannot excel.  There is death and dissatisfaction in this, idleness and faithlessness, addictions, fetishes and decline.

Survival and flourishing comes to those committed to excellence.  A life of discontent to those who hide from, and dread, the efforts that life demands and offers.

Diamonds are rare.  Excellence is shunned too often and too easily.

Shalom.

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