Modern Day Philosopher

Denzel Washington

I am a fan of movies starring Denzel Washington and appreciate his acting skills.  He is one of the iconic actors of our time.  His acting skills are evident in movies such as The Equalizer, Titans, Glory, Courage Under Fire, and American Gangster.  In searching YouTube for clips from some of these films I happened to stumble across speeches he made at college graduations. 

Watching these speeches, it is obvious why he is a popular speaker at graduations.  He has a message of hope and encouragement.  But he is also honest about the value of faith, family, hard work, and failure.  For many he has become a modern-day philosopher and spokesman for reason in a society that often lacks direction.  Some of his most memorable quotes include:

“The chances you take… the people you meet… the people you love…the faith that you have – that’s what’s going to define your life.”

“Don’t aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.”

“Goals on the road to achievement cannot be achieved without discipline and consistency.”

“Put God first in everything you do … Everything that I have is by the grace of God, understand that.  It’s a gift … I didn’t always stick with Him, but He stuck with me.”

“Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, or dream?  Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt by the heart.”

“Nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks.  Fall forward.  Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

“Be careful what you ask for because when you pray for rain, you have to deal with the mud as well.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished.  It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments.  It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better.  It’s about what you’ve given back.”

“If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying.”

“Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big.”

“Dreams without goals, are just dreams, and they ultimately fuel disappointment.”

“I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them.  And while you’re down there thank God for grace and mercy and understanding.  We all fall short of the glory, we all got plenty.”

“Some said America took a step forward electing a black president.  In light of the unconstitutional expansion of powers, lack of transparency and fueling the fires of unrest that clearly hasn’t been the case.  Vote based on merits, not to fill a racial quota.”

“Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”

“I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together.  And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me – spiritually and financially.”

“My faith helps me understand that circumstances don’t dictate my happiness, my inner peace.”

“Writing is a weapon and it’s more powerful than a fist could ever be.”

“For whatever reason, God has blessed me with the ability, put me in a position to make these leaps and bounds.  I’m fulfilling my part of the bargain, which is to give back and be a positive influence on others.”

“We live in a time when people give up too easy.”

“You never know how you’re going to affect people.”

“Strength, leadership, power, authority, guidance, and patience are God’s gift to us as men.  We have to cherish that, not abuse it.  I prayed this morning to be a better listener.  We are human, you get back up.”

“See what you are in this world.  That’s either one of two things.  Either you are somebody, or you’re nobody.”

“We did not come this far just to break down and lose now.  I’m a winner.  I’m going to win.”

It is my guess that Denzel Washington does not consider himself a philosopher, just a man with the opportunity to influence lives because of his gifts.  His words carry a lot of weight at a time when we all need hope and inspiration.  His quotes have inspired millions of people, and in my book that is a philosopher. 

I am never going to meet Denzel Washington, few in a small town in North Georgia ever will.  But we can take his thoughts and encouragement into our consciousness and apply them to our daily habits.