W4, #2: A STORY OF A PASSIONATE LIFE

Set-Up: Ever heard of Ben Dunlap?

Well, Mr. Dunlap — the President of Woffard College — tells the story of Sandor Teszler, a Hungarian man he met at Wofford College years ago, a man who has much to teach all of us about justice…and what it truly means to be a lifelong learner.

If you have 20 minutes, watch this video. What is it about?

Well, I’m going to let you discover that out on your own.

Challenge:

  • Watch the video. You’ll need about 20 minutes.
  • Share your reaction to the story of Sandor Teszler.

Length: 5+ sentences

Additional: Want to learn more about other speakers — like Mr. Dunlap — who speak every year at the world famous TED Conference held in California each early spring? Try this link. I think you’ll find some amazing voices, stories, and ideas, many that you may never be able to forget once you see/hear them.

My only request?

If you find another TED video that you love, share it with me. Thanks!

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16 responses to “W4, #2: A STORY OF A PASSIONATE LIFE

  1. I found this video very moving, to the point of goose bumps and cold chills. You could definitely see Dunlap’s passion was the same as Robicsek, Teszler, and Bartok by the way he talked about them.

    I think Mr. Teszler was an influential man to all who knew him. I adore his willingness to go off the limb and do something to make a change. When he created his factory, I loved how his main task was not the work that needed to be done at the factory, but actually in that community. It is definitely some movie potential… Wait…it’s basically the same storyline as the Titans. (she smiles)

    Interesting…. I enjoyed Dunlap’s statement about their secret of success was a desire to know.

    This reminds me very much of my grandfather, because he loves learning and tries to learn something new everyday. Dunlap quoted Gandhi several times. The quote I liked best was, “Live each day as if it is your last. Learn as if you’ll live forever.”

    Wow. I don’t know how to exactly respond to that. I think so many times, especially during school, we get caught up in all of the homework and studying, that we forget to see how cool those facts actually are. Some classes are easy to just memorize the facts without truly understanding.

    My main goal for this school year is not necessarily outstanding grades. (Even though I do still want that). I want to say that I was able to understand, and now I have knowledge that I can use throughout my life. Knowledge that shapes who I am, what I stand for, and what I strive to be.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Thank you for taking time to review the video so early on in the week (even though it took 20 min just to watch before you began writing)…and spending this much time exploring your reaction.

    This caught my attention: “I loved how his main task was not the work that needed to be done at the factory, but actually in that community.” Powerful line.

  2. WOW…Sandor Teszler was an amazing man who understood humanity better than the rest of us.

    The story of the employee who later became the foreman was simply inspiring. I am now inspired to see the good in other people; to think that ”all people are inherently good”, as Teszler said. By simply being a good human being to others, we can achieve so much–by opening up doors in the minds of people who didn’t know they existed. Being good touches people in ways they don’t always understand. Teszler is an inspiring, brave, and all-around good man.

    This was an amazing lecture/talk. I am truly inspired.

    ***

    Mr. Long: As I read over your reply, I am reminded once again how it would be impossible to accurately describe the power of this talk. You just have to watch it for yourself.

    And you hit on one of the key things. If someone like Teszler can see the ‘good’ in all — regardless of what one’s first impressions might be in a complicated social situation — there aren’t many excuses we can hide behind afterwards.

  3. Don’t you just love people?

    How beautiful and inspiring.

    How is it that someone who went through what he did can see so much wonderfulness in the world and the people in it?

    It makes you think of all the people you’ve looked down upon, all those you’ve judged, and wonder if it was justified. It speaks of forgiveness, willingness to learn and move on, second chances, and to make sure we don’t blame others for the mistakes of one person. This man was willing to look at all the layers of a persons heart and to believe that every person is derived from good. What a tremendous heart he must have had.

    I loved this video. Thank you.

    ***

    Mr. Long: No, thank you: for your reply, for your sincerity, and for the very human way you embraced this video.

    I shouldn’t be surprised. Knowing you, this is a heart you recognize and would be inspired by. And perhaps a heart that you share as well. Why do I say this?

    Because of this comment of yours: “It makes you think of all the people you’ve looked down upon, all those you’ve judged, and wonder if it was justified. It speaks of forgiveness, willingness to learn and move on, second chances, and to make sure we don’t blame others for the mistakes of one person.”

  4. I am at the beginning of my life in the world of social and political experience, it is daunting to think of the possibility of ever knowing people that could and have influenced history like Sandor Teszler and Dr. Robicsek, just wrapping my mind around the idea of knowing, personally, influential men like these, is barely feasible.

    This is just one of the reasons of why Dunlap’s story kept my full attention for those short twenty minutes, nothing could have diverted my attention once I had committed to the story, I was captured by it.

    Sandor’s story was awe-inspiring.

    The coincidence of having kept the man, who is assigned to kill you, out of jail, is probably as rare as anything. Teszler’s fairness saved his life during the Holocaust, and it let him prosper into an icon of textile manufacturing. Integrating his textile mill may very well have sparked a flame that led to the Civil Rights Movement, or it could have just influenced the Kings Mountain area, only history can tell you that. However, Sandor Teszler wasn’t interested in being famous in history; all he wanted to do was to unite a small region of people and try to make the people forget about their beliefs on racism in order to create a group of people that could work well under him without any prejudices against one another. Sandor was a holocaust survivor, a textile genius, and a fair, rational man that obviously touched the lives of those around him. Just hearing the passion with which Ben Dunlap talked of Teszler creates an image of Sandor that is unforgettable.

    Every person wishes and dreams that someone will remember them and cherish them. Sandor Teszler is one of those people that accomplished that dream and beyond. Some Hungarian Jew, born with two club feet, was spoken of with admiration at a meeting with some of the greatest minds of our time in attendance, and his background reinforced his story and provided the reason for why this man did what he did and believed what he did.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Had I even tried my hardest to convey the weight and power of this man’s story, I’d have come in a distant second (at best) to your reaction. Love the way you kicked it off, too, not to mention your last line. You do such a nice job of offering context and perspective here.

    Such a powerful point you make here: “However, Sandor Teszler wasn’t interested in being famous in history; all he wanted to do was to unite a small region of people and try to make the people forget about their beliefs on racism in order to create a group of people that could work well under him without any prejudices against one another.”

  5. The story of Sandor Teszler was definetly an inspiring one. If this story does not convince someone to be less judgemental and more fair, nothing will.

    Sandor is a man of influence. How do we know? Because this time period, especially in the deep South Carolina, was a racist time. The fact alone that Teszler could somehow influence a once rasist man to answer the question that he had asked only a short time earlier with the passion brought on by Mr Tezsler is remarkable. Tezsler though not so old at the time was “Conspicuously wiser than any one of us.”

    The fact that a man that “had such reason to believe otherwise” had the upmost faith in humanity shows that people, wheter it be a clubfooted hungarian or a child, can shape a community in ways thought impossible. Mr Tezsler, Im sure believed in a quote said by Napoleaon “Impossible is found only in the dicctionary of a fool.” Sandor made the impossible possible and “in one fail swoop he had integrated the textile bussiness forever.”

    As students before have said, Mr. Tezsler was not in this game for fame or even for fortune. He truly had the good intentions of just trying to unify a group of individuals into a team. With this fact in my head, I have come to the conclusion that Sandor Tezsler is a true hero. He may not in words be a ‘warrior’ but he still is fighting for what he believes in. He has all the spoken about hero qualities such as; the hard times (holocost), the support of others, and throughout his life being reevered as a man of wisdom and love. This story of a remarkable man shows that even though human and in hard times, acomplishments can be many and rewards just as plentiful.

    ***

    Mr. Long: So agree with you re: “If this story does not convince someone to be less judgemental and more fair, nothing will.”

    Indeed: “Tezsler though not so old at the time was “Conspicuously wiser than any one of us.'”

    What a cool concept after our work with Beowulf, BTW: “He may not in words be a ‘warrior’ but he still is fighting for what he believes in.”

  6. Student #4 (follow-up)

    By the way I took your advice and watched some of the other videos. My favorite was the story of the girl by far. I suppose I like that one more than say, the one about ocean exoploration because it is what it says “a story of a (real) girl” I thought the story was really interesting. I also thought it was super cool how the story who it was about was in the audience and came up on stage afterwords, I was not expecting that. If you havn’t already I highly reccomend (however you spell it) watching it.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Can you send the link to the video, plus her name?

    So pleased you checked out some of the other videos. I have a few I’ll point you and your classmates to this year. Maybe you can suggest one or two along the way.

  7. Very interesting-

    I think it is amazing that even though Teszler had experienced the worst acts of human violence any one could dream of, he still believed that everyone was “inherently good”. It seems that through experience you gain the purest form of knowledge. Teszler could understand humility, violence, and see the good in everyone because he had experienced the worst.

    Yet still, if I put myself in his place I would have a very hard time forgiving those who had tortured my family and drove me from my home. This proves that Teszler was not just an ordinary person, but truly embraced the ‘Hungarian’ traits Dunlap discusses throughout the talk.

    I also loved the discussion of the Harry Potter movie amongst the incredibly wise Hungarians at the restaurant. I also loved Dunlap’s point that they are as wise as they are because of their curiosity to know and learn no matter what the subject. This talk showed, through the life of Teszler, how influential one person can be. Teszler integrated the textile business, influenced those at Wolford College and inspired everyone around him.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Key points you made that I really appreciated:

    “I think it is amazing that even though Teszler had experienced the worst acts of human violence any one could dream of, he still believed that everyone was “inherently good”.”

    ” I also loved Dunlap’s point that they are as wise as they are because of their curiosity to know and learn no matter what the subject.”

  8. Student #4 (follow-up #2)

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/rick_smolan_tells_the_story_of_a_girl.html

    Her name is Unsuk Lee? I have no idea how to spell it.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Thanks! That first photo of Unsuk reading/studying by candle is heart-breaking and heart-building. Lovely!

    BTW, I completely love the photography series he helped inspire/develop. So thankful to you to have the chance to listen to him tell this story. Fascinating guy in his own right, esp. how he decided to ‘quit’ @ 28 to go spend time with the kids he was photographing. Wow!

    ***

    Just finished watching the entire video. Amazing story on so many levels. Thank you for introducing it to me.

  9. Usually I can’t keep still when watching videos like this, I either have to get something to drink or eat, or just playing with something in my hand. But this story of Mr. Teszler kept me inside the story and focused throughout the whole twenty minutes. It was just simply interesting.

    My favorite part of this story was when Ben Dunlap came to the realization of why people like Mr. Teszler are successful; because of their “extraordinary curiosity” no matter what the subject. I also loved this part because I came to the same realization as Ben Dunlap. I now understand that having a desirable curiosity for something and a strong work ethic you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I found this twenty minute story more than just a lecture.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Like you, I continue to marvel at his message re: “extraordinary curiosity”, especially the depths of his meaning given the life he led. I’ve often thought that I never wanted to be the brightest person in a group, but I’d love to be known as the most curious/intrigued.

    Most pleased that this video surprised you in terms of maintaining your interest. There’s just something about it that’s hard to put a finger on. It just pulls you in (as you said very well).

  10. Mr. Dunlap is a very talented guy. I was fascinated by his talk. The story of Sandor Teszler was also very interesting. He believed after all the beatings that there still is good in the world. I liked how he talked about the Harry Potter series. I thought it was pretty funny about how two people can get in an argument about Harry Potter.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Kinda of intriguing that H. Potter shows up in this story.

  11. Wow, this Mr. Teszler is really someone to admire.

    He went through a lot, and though coinsidence may have helped him a good deal, his life still has a great impact on this world. I loved what he did with the integration – he was bold enough (and stubborn enough) to take that step, and he rocks for it! And I loved his simple but amazing quote: “You know, doctor, human beings are fundamentally good.”

    I also enjoyed the Harry Potter bit – but I must disagree with Mr. Robicsek; the first movie was better, lol!

    ***

    Mr. Long: Amazing how different the world is when we a) stop feeling like victims (even when we are wronged) and b) we believe that people are “fundamentally good”. Nodding my head up and down with you.

    Yes, stubbornly bold, but in the right sort of way.

  12. WOW! That is an awesome story. This truely was a story about a passionate life.

    I find it inspiring that Mr.Tetzel made it through such a brutal first half of his life yet comes back the second half and is nice to all people. Mr. Dunlap describes him as such a strong man to have integrated a factory in a sentence and yet everyone understands it. Mr. Dunlap as well as Mr. Tetzel both seem like extrordinary human beings. If more humans were like him the world would truely be a better place. When you think about it, it is truely not that hard to look on the bright side of things or find the good in people. What a great story with a great message.

    ***

    Mr. Long: So pleased/appreciative that you pointed out that the storyteller is extraordinary. Just sharing the story suggests something wonderful about Mr. Dunlap.

    Glad you liked the story.

  13. The story of Sandor Tetzel is very inspiring and truly heroic. I could not pull away from my computer because I was in awe of the perseverance and kindness of Sandor. It is amazing to me that individuals who go through terrible experiences like the Holocaust are not completely negative towards humanity. To truly witness the evil actions that individuals are capable of would presumably corrupt any individual. But this story caused me to realize that perhaps I don’t give enough credit to mankind. Humans are capable of great strength both physically and emotionally and these horrible experiences seem to have strengthened Tetzel and allowed him to be a wise individual. This is a story that causes me to place a large amount of faith in the goodness of mankind because Tetzel proved that this can conquer all.

    I also was inspired by the fact that Tetzel never gave up and he truly made every effort to protect himself and his family. Tetzel ensured that those he loved would be as safe as possible and though the sionide capsules could be seen as a plan to give up they truly were present to ensure that the innocence of his children and family was not completely stripped away by horrific pain. Tetzel showed through this ‘insurance policy’ that he was a thoughtful man with obvious intelligence. However Tetzel’s willingness to trust and see the good in all individuals also was a weakness. Due to this accepting personality he did not get his family out of a dangerous situation as quickly as possible. Though everything worked out for the best the thought of ‘what if’ continuously hangs over the story.

    The fact that Tetzel had a good sense of humor was not surprising to me at all. Laughter and kindness are completely connected. If you are a joyful individual then kindness and acceptance will come more easily for you. Obviously Tetzel experienced some very difficult times in his life through which he probably wasn’t laughing but the fact that he learned from these experiences and now indulges in laughter displays that the joy was always present in his heart. Laughing is a simple expression of joy without which our world would be lost, and Tetzel brought the importance of this action to my attention. Also Tetzel is a very humble individual and this demonstrates once again how wise he truly is. Tetzel realizes that being arrogant about knowledge is neither appealing nor necessary and I truly appreciate this. In every aspect of life Tetzel was a kind man willing to learn and full heartedly accept everyone and this is the description of not only a hero but a saint.

    ***

    Mr. Long: It was worth sharing the video with all of you just to read this:

    “To truly witness the evil actions that individuals are capable of would presumably corrupt any individual. But this story caused me to realize that perhaps I don’t give enough credit to mankind. Humans are capable of great strength both physically and emotionally and these horrible experiences seem to have strengthened Tetzel and allowed him to be a wise individual.”

    Provocative point: “However Tetzel’s willingness to trust and see the good in all individuals also was a weakness. Due to this accepting personality he did not get his family out of a dangerous situation as quickly as possible.” Curious how others will respond, although from a point of logic I think you’re saying something profound.

  14. This story was truly inspirational to me.

    Sandor Teszler had an incredible life, and it makes me think about how fortunate I am. When Ben Dunlap mentioned Teszler’s early life, I was very emotional. How he survived the holocaust and witnessed people being brutally beaten and still managed to see the good in people amazes me. It makes me think about all the times I have judged others and never gotten to know them. I was still able to go on and not even think about who they really could be. He also inspired me when he said Teszler integrated the textile industry in the south. Teszler didn’t care what race you were, as long as you proved to be an able worker. That must have taken an immense amount of courage and heart. His life was not only an inspiration to Ben Dunlap, but too many others as well, including me.

    Thank you for posting this blog this week. It was very touching to hear such a story.

    ***

    Mr. Long: You said: “It makes me think about all the times I have judged others and never gotten to know them.” Me, too!

    You’re welcome, especially since you took the time to offer such a great/heartfelt response.

  15. I loved this video. Sandora Teszler is an amazing speaker. I loved the stories he told, but what really amazed me was the purpose for his talk. He stated “live life to the fullest.” I felt that was the purpose to express to people the joy one should have and the experiences you should experience cause who knows if this will be your last day, or who knows maybe you will encounter this everyday of the rest of your life. But why not try as much as you can and give everything you got? Sandora did such a remarkable job at getting this point across with all the examples. I loved this video.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Agree with you: “I felt that was the purpose to express to people the joy one should have and the experiences you should experience cause who knows if this will be your last day, or who knows maybe you will encounter this everyday of the rest of your life.”

  16. I thought this video was very moving, and also very inspiring. It is always interesting to see how the Holocaust survivors, these people who come back from the deepest crevices in Hell, can rebound after experiencing just how terrible the human race can be.

    Mr. Teszler’s story was inspiring not only because of what he did in his life, but because he did so much of this after being brutalized for not being the ‘right’ religion. Instead of turning within himself, or becoming angry and hateful to the entire world, Mr. Teszler gave back to the world which had threatened to take so much from him. Mr. Teszler actually takes the lessons he learned about how terrible ostracizing a group of people can be, and works to eliminate segregation in the South. For the first part of his life, Mr. Teszler had been ostracized, first for having two club feet, and then for the simple ‘crime’ of being a Jew. But Mr. Teszler never faltered, and touched hundreds of peoples’ lives by simply seeing the world clearly, and being interested in people.

    For me, the real kicker in the video was when the guard at the death house turned out to be the sock thief that Mr. Teszler had been so fair and kind to. It really shows how being kind and good to all that you know can one day help you; maybe not in the extreme fashion that it did Mr. Teszler by saving the life of his loved ones, but you can never really know.

    The story of Mr. Teszler is similar to that of a character in a book, Beach Music. One of the characters, “The Great Jew”, as he is called, moved to America after killing a Cossack attacker in the Jewish Quarter of his town in the Ukraine. This character arrives in Charleston, South Carolina where he soon opens many stores, and becomes the mayor of the town.

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