There is no denying that Mother Teresa was an exceptional human being, however what Lucky finds most remarkable about her is that her philanthropic philosophy extended beyond humans and encompassed all that she deemed part of god’s creation. According to mother Teresa, “They [animals] too, are created by the same loving hand of God which Created us…It is our duty to Protect Them and to promote their well-being. I love animals. They are such simple creations of God’s beauty.”
Though Mother Teresa is unavailable to share her insight, Wendy and Lucky were fortunate enough to attend the launch party of Ruma Bose’s new soon-to-be-best-selling book, “Mother Teresa CEO” in which she examines how Mother Teresa’s philanthropic efforts provide a model for successful and ethical business at the Rubin Museum of Art. Amidst the delicious food, sparkling champagne, and the excited crowd, Wendy was able to pull Ruma aside for a few moments to chat about what she learned that ways in which she was influenced during the year she spent with Mother Teresa in Calcutta.
AF: Hi, Ruma. First and foremost, everyone at Animal Fair is wondering, do you love animals?
Ruma: I love animals. Dogs, cats, horses, birds, I love animals.
AF: How did animals factor into your time with Mother Teresa?
Ruma: Have you ever been to Calcutta? The thing that’s beautiful about the city of Calcutta is that animals live in harmony with the community. And so, wherever you go, you always see families with their pets, going together, and that to me is very, very peaceful.
AF: If Mother Teresa were an animal, what would she be?
Ruma: That’s a great question. If Mother Teresa were an animal, she would be a mother bear, protecting all of her cubs and everyone around her. I think that would definitely describe her.
AF: While I was reading through your book, the part that really intrigued me was about the criticisms Mother Teresa had received and where to “draw the line”. I was wondering if you encountered situations where you observed Mother Teresa toeing the line?
Ruma: I think a vast example of that is when she was known to have taken money from people whose values were not necessarily in line with her own and the whole concept of that chapter is understanding when one needs to draw the line. Because a lot of people would take a step back and say, “How could you do that? [accept money from unsavory characters]” And I think the point is her whole idea is, I do work for charity and in order to do the work I need to have money and that comes from the generous donations we all give. And I believe that charity comes from the heart. So, I’m not going to question where it comes from. I’m going to do good things with it. What I’m not going to allow anybody to do is bad things with my good name. So, you never saw Mother Teresa endorsing any products or commercializing anything. For her, everything she did was all about the purity.
AF: And what was most surprising to you about Mother Teresa during your time with her?
Ruma: Well, that’s easy. The first thing that surprised me was the fact that she’s 4 foot 10, and I’ve never met anyone who is shorter than me. But, other than that, I think what struck me most was the simplicity with which she lived her life, and the message that she had of serving the poorest of the poor was always so evident in everything she did—the way she dressed, the way she spoke, the way she served people. So, that simplicity, there’s a lot of power in that.
AF: Do you have any final advice for anyone trying to emulate Mother Teresa whether in the boardroom or in their backyard?
Ruma: You don’t have to be a saint to be a great leader. You don’t have to be a saint to apply these simple principles into your life. And it’s not even a question of doing everything at once. Just take one thing and try to do it better every single day and you’ll start to see improvements in your life.
Also on hand was Daily Show correspondent, Aasif Mandvi, who interspersed his insight with his trademark wit and humor. Mandvi’s respect for Mother Teresa was evident throughout our time with him, and we were even able to catch him off balance a bit – a feat worthy of John Stewart himself!
AF: (laughs) Our big question of the night is, if Mother Teresa were an animal, what would she be?
Aasif: Oh, come on! Are you really with Howard Stern? If Mother Teresa were an animal, what kind of animal would she be? That’s what you’re asking?
AF: Yeah, it’s a cute ice breaker.
Aasif: Okay. Well, she was very tiny. So I assume a small animal. She was always in a shawl. So, I’m thinking a small animal that wears a sari, and helped millions of people. So, I’m going to say a Malaysian turtle. Have you ever seen a Malaysian turtle? They do wear the sari. I think they only have males. Unfortunately, that’s the one downside to this analogy. There are only male Malaysian turtles that wear saris in the world.
AF: What existing charities today do you think best mirror Mother Teresa’s philosophy?
Aasif: I think many, many charities around the world, actually, are moderately with the humanitarian aspect of what Mother Teresa did. Obviously there were charities before her. But I think she became such a renowned figure in terms of the world. I think there are charities all the time, all over the world that are building schools in Africa, and hospitals, and taking people off the street and feeding them. All of that stuff is in some small way connected to the word that Mother Teresa sort of enacted.
AF: What do the CEO’s of the world have to learn from Mother Teresa?
Aasif: Not to be douchebags. And not to steal people’s money. Oh, and fashion in a sense.
Mother Teresa’s spirit continues to influence all who root for the underdog, and we are happy to share her inspiring words on the treatment of the animals with whom we share this planet:
Because they give everything asking for nothing back…
Because they are defenseless amid men’s weapons and power…
Because they are eternal children…because they don’t know hate…or war…because they don’t know about money and only seek the protection of a shelter…
Because they explain themselves without words, because their eyes are as pure as their souls…
Because they don’t know about envy or grudges, because forgiveness comes natural to them…
Because they love with loyalty and truthfulness…
Because they recognize and appreciate respect…
Because they don’t buy love, they just expect it…
Because they are our companions, eternal friends that never betray…
And because they are alive. Because of this and a thousand other reasons they deserve our love!
If we learn to love them like they deserve, for being creatures that feel, suffer and need us, we will be closer to God