Life is a series of choices. Moment by moment, second by second, minute by minute…
We choose to act, or not. To Live, or not. On the micro-scale, these choices become infinite. Do we greet the stranger as we walk past, or pretend they aren’t there? do we pick up the garbage (plastic, styrofoam) toxic to our planet, or step over/around it? Do we offer a smile, a frown, a grimace, to a Friend, Loved One, acquaintance, co-worker, -again- stranger, or look the other way? Do we offer assistance to the beggar, with the Prayer they will get better? Or scorn them for their plight, assuming the worst possible reasons for it, and rationalizing that they are totally responsible for their predicament?
These are but a few of the myriad choices we make, not even scratching the surface of their entirety. Yet they are some of the more poignant, the more character driven, those that -to others as well as ourselves- define us, and determine the example(s) we make for those who are and/or may be watching. And we never know who may be watching at any given time…maybe safer to assume we always are.
As we get older, the “legacy” which we leave behind becomes ever-more prevalent in our thoughts, and additionally, if we care, in our deeds. And it is all based upon the choices we make. Go to Church, or stay home. Write that letter to a Friend, or watch the next episode of “X”, “Y”, or “Z” that we’ve DVR’d, downloaded, or subscribed to (who watches cable any more?)?
Of course these choices are not always so “black or white”… or are they? Can everything really be so neatly packaged into a set of “right” or “wrong” boxes? Is there not an endless field of gray? I guess that depends upon your values, your morals, and what and/or how much you are willing to take responsibility for.
Better people have said before me, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”, and “I’m starting with the [wo]man in the mirror! I’m asking [her]him to make that change! If you want to make the world, a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that… change!“
It is amazing to me, that we have come so far technologically, and yet have digressed so humanitarianly! It’s been less than my recollected lifetime since we were a MUCH more Family-oriented, neighborly, and kind peoples. It was in my youth that We Are the World and Hands Across America were launched, and quite successfully for their time! The youth of that time were alive with curiosity, a desire to reach out, to feel, and to be connected, figuratively as well as literally, to the world around them, and to step out of the “box” that surrounded the mindset(s) of our U.S. citizen parents, and their rampant “hands off” policy following the Vietnam tragedy(ies). We wanted to be involved, and to make a difference, not just in the U.S. (and neither excluding it), but to/for all of humanity!
And then “personal computing” happened… a boon to our ability to communicate globally, a bane to our ability to be connected, and to communicating personally! Thirty-some years later, we are more disconnected than ever before, while simultaneously being fed more information about the globe and those 7+ billion brothers and sisters of ours than any one city of humans can keep up with! iGen is the new and upcoming 20 somethings, and they’ve not known a time without the internet, mass-social media, and instant-connectivity, and are perhaps some of the most instant-gratification seeking individuals the world has known! And we, their 40-something parents, have let it happen. We’ve allowed TV programs (our generation’s single-parent baby-sitter), movies and video games to desensitize us, to influence our decisions, our viewpoints, our choices, to the extent that many don’t recognize any longer the evil it has brought! Family values are nearly non-existent, discipline (not to be confused with abuse!) found only from armed “enforcers” of the law, and banned from the home!
Our choices to be more “individual”, less responsible, have changed the very landscape of our social makeup! The right to choose is a sacred one, and one that should be afforded to all in much greater abundance than is presently the case in these “United” States, but it does not come without consequence! With the right, the freedom to choose, comes great responsibility! It is, in and of itself, not ‘free’, but that is how it’s meant to be!
No one can take away our right to choose! We may not like the consequences, or the responsibility, but it is the only thing that CANNOT be taken from us! And yet, ironically, it is the “little things” that make the biggest impact, that have the most meaning! Ever given a random hug, and seen the person’s face light up because of it? Ever offer an unexpected compliment, and seen the person, at first bewildered, walk away more confident, happier, and full of good cheer they then, turned around and shared? Ever help someone out, who fell, or tripped, or was down on their luck, then walked away without expectation of reward or praise? Ever voted according to your conscience, regardless of the “popularity contest” that went on outside of the ballot box?
It is a proven fact that random acts of kindness, generosity, and doing what’s right for the simple fact that it was right to do so, are contagious! When we set this example, when we choose to act, instead of being acted upon, we can make a difference! But we must want to… we must choose to. Those choices can be major, or minor. We don’t usually know which they are, or the impact they may have, ’til after the fact. Sometimes not at all. But they are always important, those choices we make. Because they will inevitably have an effect on someone, whether we ever see it, or know it, or not.