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Jonathan Green: I believe

Upper Canada College IB2 student Jonathan Green addressed the Upper School assembly on Feb. 24 with an “I believe” speech about the importance of gratitude. Here’s his message:

“Whining was unacceptable in my house as I grew up. Whenever I was rowdy, upset or complaining about something, my parents would read a poem to me. It goes as follows:

“Today I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
Envied her and wished I were so fair.
When she rose to go, she hobbled down the aisle.
She had one leg, wore a crutch and a smile.
Oh God forgive me when I whine
I have two legs, the world is mine.

“Then I stopped to buy some sweets.
The lad who sold them had such charm.
I talked with him – my being late was no harm.
As I left he said to me, ‘You’ve been so kind.
You see,’ he said, ‘I am blind.’
Oh God forgive me when I whine
I have two eyes, the world is mine.

“I believe that you should be grateful for what you have. I do my best to show my gratefulness. Even though I forget sometimes, the intention and the appreciative attitude is still there. As a rowdy little kid, and by rowdy I mean running around on the ceiling rowdy, I was never thankful for what I had. I was never pleased with the roof over my head, the toys I had, let alone the unbelievable institution I go to. I like to think that I straightened myself out as I arrived here.

“My parents always tell a story about the time we were out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. The four Green boys were running around making a mess. Out of nowhere, a waitress comes to our table with a bottle of wine. My mother says that she didn’t order any wine, to which the waitress responds, ‘I know. It’s from the table over there. They said you might need it.’

“That specific poem and the message that comes with it has been a constant in my development. I’ve learned to appreciate everything that I have. I’ve tried to treasure every moment. Every performance, tryout and game I’ve been in has been a great experience. As my time comes to a close at Upper Canada College, I’ll remember the great times, long hours and tough days I’ve had here. You won’t want to leave this school anymore when you’re weeks away from graduation. They always say: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.’

“So be grateful for everything you have. Tell your buddies in period two that they make that comparative English essay that much more bearable. Tell your parents that you love them and that they inspire you to be the best you can be. Tell facilities they do a great job behind the scenes keeping this school running. Tell everyone in your life that you care about the work they do. Even seemingly small jobs deserve recognition, and make sure to notice them. And when times are tough, remember to think of the good stuff. Instead of whining, recognize the great things, people and places in your life.

“I believe that gratefulness is the first step to becoming a better person.

“Thank you.”

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