When people ask me why I gave up my parking spot on campus to ride the free commuter bus from Chatham, I shrug and say, “Al Gore made me do it.” If you saw An Inconvenient Truth you’ll understand.
And when friends ask about my involvement in grassroots politics, I say, “Gandhi made me do it.” On my best days, when I remember that it takes a lot more energy to hate than to forgive, I know it’s because, “Mandela made me do it.”
Now I have someone else to blame for the times when I manage to get in touch with my better self. When I remember to say “thank you” for a job well done, when I take the time to listen to a colleague’s troubles or offer a friend a word of encouragement, and when I remind myself that it’s almost always worth the effort to volunteer in my community, I know where at least some of that inspiration came from.
That would be Eve Carson, our former UNC Student Body President whose buoyant life was tragically cut short a year ago. I didn’t know Eve personally, but I observed her at UNC Board of Trustees meetings. (She was a show stopper.) I’ve heard Chancellor Holden Thorp’s personal stories about his interactions with Eve. And I’ve read what her friends have said about her, and noticed how others who never knew her have said that Eve’s short life inspired them to be better people.
I don’t think I’ll start peppering my email messages with exclamation points, as Eve was famous for doing. But when I remember to dance fiercely, sing loudly, encourage my friends to be bold, fearless and generous, when I just try a little harder to be a fully alive good human being, I’ll know whom to blame.
Eve made me do it.