Six Key Words Point To Being A Better Human

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 13 June 2016.
By John Abbate.



Ay, in this thought I pledge my faith unswerving,

Here wisdom speaks its final word and true,

None is of freedom or of life deserving

Unless he daily conquers it anew.

—Goethe,  Faust, Part Two


And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

—Revelation 21:5 (KJV)


In characteristic fashion, Dr Macnab begins each of his six words for being a better human with the same letter. This is not a coincidence. It is, above all, a valuable, mnemonic device. Dr Macnab wants us to remember these words that each begin with the letter ‘a’.


The first word,

Anew – recognising that a new start is possible each and every day. With a little courage, we can begin anew.


The second word,

Appreciation – the antidote for behaviours that diminish and devalue others. Appreciation is “a high mark of the best human.”


The third word,

Affability – the affable personality stands against the angry, aggrieved, arrogant personality. Affability marks a return to a neglected tenderness, another high mark of the best humanity.


The fourth word(s),

Affection and altruism – the twin angels that carry our investment in others, and in the welfare of things outside the self. Being a better human being depends on affection and altruism, as implicit components in a positive engagement with others.


The fifth word,

Attachment – the vital bonds we make throughout the lifespan; the necessary supports that make it possible for us to find courage—the courage to make things new.


The sixth word,

Anxiety, which sits behind our anger and aggression. It can keeps us there, or it can spur us to become better human beings.


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