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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

May 22, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 34




Sister Rita Larivee Misspellings and typos of life

Sister Rita Larivee, SSA, NCR associate publisher

Lately, it seems, typos appear where I'd prefer not to see them. There is always one misspelled word or one misplaced comma. But luckily, there are word processors and spell checkers to fix things for me.

Wouldn't it be nice if the same could be said about life? Imagine being able to run your day through a life-checker or a life-processor. Before retiring for the evening, you could correct errors and rewrite parts of the day. Or better yet, you could delete some sections that would never be seen or heard of again. You might even want to insert a few new passages. Think how convenient a backspace button for life would be. As soon as you say something you would have preferred not to have said, just hit the backspace key and it's gone.

For the little things you really enjoyed, you could hit the repeat key. And for a particularly bad day, you could just erase the whole thing, i.e., shut done, fall asleep, and don't bother to hit the save button.

Sometimes, this is how I feel about life. And I imagine the same is true for most people from time to time.

Word processors for life, however, have yet to be invented. At least that's what most people would think. But the fact of the matter is they've been around for thousands of years and used successfully by generations throughout the world.

How do you get your hands on them? Somebody reminded me recently that they are within us the day we're born. It's just of matter of learning how to use them. With a little practice, they're even better than the latest version of the new word processor on the market.

They are the virtues we've been encouraged to cultivate since the time we were children. Used as the buttons of life, they allow us to better manage our thoughts, actions and words and give us a way for dealing with very difficult situations.

Some of the fundamental keystrokes are caring, charity, commitment, compassion, consideration, cooperation, courage, courtesy, detachment, diligence, enthusiasm, faith, flexibility, forgiveness, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, helpfulness, honesty, honor, hope, humility, idealism, integrity, joyfulness, justice, kindness, love, loyalty, moderation, modesty, nonviolence, orderliness, patience, peacefulness, perseverance, purposefulness, reliability, respect, responsibility, self-discipline, service, thankfulness, tolerance, trust, trustworthiness, truthfulness, understanding, unity and zest for life.

In short, the virtues, similar to spell checkers, give us a way for fixing the typos of life. Regardless of how hard one tries, there's always one overlooked error, whether it be a word or a matter of judgment. But carefully mastered, virtues allow us to manage our lives so that the typos do not get in the way.

It would be nice if every day ended with no section needing to be deleted. It would be even better if our good days could be saved and lived again. But as with most valued things, it's not the perfection that makes them worth keeping, it's the years of wear and tear and their ability to survive the trials of life. Such is life itself. Word processors for our papers, virtues for our lives.

Even Microsoft can't top this.

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