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All You Really Need is Heart

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Arnie Good

I have spent the better part of thirty years studying and learning the basic mechanisms of how the heart works.  From the basics of how cells come together to create a marvelous organ without which life cannot exist, a heart functions as an electrical organ that causes it to beat and is regulated to continue beating about 80 times every minute for an entire life.  It has a circulation of arteries and veins that supplies nutrients and oxygen to the vital heart muscle with every beat.  It is a remarkable powerhouse of a pump that has a series of valves and structures that propels blood carrying the vital substances of life to our vital organs.  I have learned about the diseases that damage our hearts and I participate in some truly remarkable therapies that allow patients to heal and live better and more productive lives.  This is all truly a marvel of God’s creation and man’s ingenuity to understand and heal.

What is less clear is why? 

It is simple to ascribe all this to the needs of biology, but there must be a larger purpose.  Besides the physiologic functions, our hearts hold so much more.  Throughout time our hearts have been the symbol of where our passions live.  The place where we hold our deepest desires and secrets.  Where we sometimes hide our dreams and our fears, our loves and less complimentary impulses.  Where our impulse to do good and our humility and humanity reside.  In short, it is where our soul lives. 

Our faith has taught us that our soul is for us to keep for the duration of our life.  The breath of God, our Neshama, instills in us life and our inspiration and mandate to make the world a better place.  On our journey we look to our Torah to teach us how to use our hearts in the right way.  We embrace our Jewish values and teachings, using them to make our selves better individuals and launching us outward to improve our communities and to advocate for those causes and projects that move us.

As leaders, privileged to connect to each other through the Wexner programs, we are given a gift to empower each other with what lives in our hearts and souls.  The values we learned through our programs, so eloquently captured in More than Managing and its introduction (by Rabbi Elka Abrahamson), speak to me every day: diversity, emotional intelligence, patience, optimism, curiosity, humor and humility. 

We live in a time when our core values are being uniquely challenged.  Where appreciation for diversity and an open heart to all seems to have fallen into disfavor.  We find ourselves challenged to continue to follow the Torah’s charge to care for those less fortunate among us.  But it is remaining true to our core values that will see us through.  Optimism about the future will create that future.  Curiosity will compel us to find new models of community to meet changing needs.  Our emotional intelligence will tell us to speak out in the response to injustice and hatred.  Patience and humility will teach that none of this will happen overnight.  It will require persistence and hard work.  

Abraham Lincoln spoke of our need to respond to “the better angels of our nature,” and I learned where those angels live.  They live with our values and love for each other, our communities, and our world.  They live in that miraculous organ called our heart.  The pump that keeps on pumping and moving us into the future. 

Arnie Good, a Wexner Heritage Alum (Columbus 00), is by profession a cardiologist and by avocation a community volunteer.  He has been involved in many community based organizations, and has held leadership roles in his conservative synagogue and Federation, currently serving as Chair of the synagogue's Foundation Board, and Chair of his Jewish Community Relations Council.  He married his childhood sweetheart Lisa, who he met in Sunday school at age 5, and with whom he has two wonderful young adult children, Alex and Hanna.  Arnie states, "My involvement in the Wexner Heritage Program has been a gift that continually inspires and educates me, and renews my enthusiasm and energy to make our community a better place."