Quote of the Day: Am I Doing Enough?

 

The good we do lives after us. It is the greatest thing that does. We may leave a legacy of wealth, power, even fame, but these are questionable benefits and sometime harm rather than help those we leave them to. Our true legacy is the trace of our influence for good. We may never see it, but it is there.  —Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Every now and then I look around me and wonder, what am I doing to help make the world a better place? I look at the parents who are protesting Critical Race Theory on behalf of their kids; or the people who are speaking out to promote the work of our Founders in spite of the harassment they receive; or the community leaders who push back on foolish mandates that their leaders are using to control them. Those people are the ones demonstrating courage, fortitude, and resilience in the face of many obstacles. In my day-to-day life, I am not taking any kind of stand to match theirs.

Yet if I stop and reflect on my assessment, the first thing I realize is that comparing myself to anyone else is a waste of time. We all live unique lives with different demands and commitments. To compare our own life to anyone else’s is not only a waste of time, but it is unhelpful in the scheme of things.

I am the only one to decide what I can do to better the world.

Rabbi Sacks is suggesting rather than adding up the material accomplishments we have made, we might just dig deeper to realize that the contributions we make to do good are the ones that will have the greatest impact on our world. And those acts don’t have value in the number of good actions we take, but in our personal investment in making sure we do them as devoted and conscious acts.

So when I praise my husband for making a delicious dinner or thank him for getting me a glass of water, I am doing good. When I send a special card to a friend to let her know that I am thinking of and praying for her, I am doing good. When I compliment a grocery store clerk on her attractive eyeglasses, I am doing good.

There are certainly more noble things that we can all do, that will garner the appreciation of others and appear to have a greater impact. But when all is said and done, the good acts we do will change the world.

Published in Group Writing
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  1. Chris Oler Coolidge
    Chris Oler
    @ChrisO

    Really like this and, if I may be so bold, one of the “good” actions you often take is to be generous in your praise of fellow Ricochet members. That is one thing if you’re sort of just rubber stamping something you agree with, and it’s another when you go out of your way to find a kernal of commonality and/or praiseworthy aspect of someone’s perspective, even as you disagree. 

    THAT is something that brings a bit more community here, and something we can never have too much of. Goodonya, Susan.

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  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Chris Oler (View Comment):

    Really like this and, if I may be so bold, one of the “good” actions you often take is to be generous in your praise of fellow Ricochet members. That is one thing if you’re sort of just rubber stamping something you agree with, and it’s another when you go out of your way to find a kernal of commonality and/or praiseworthy aspect of someone’s perspective, even as you disagree.

    THAT is something that brings a bit more community here, and something we can never have too much of. Goodonya, Susan.

    That is so sweet, @chrisoler! Oh, there I go again! Well, I’m just so grateful whenever people comment. I don’t comment on everything, but there are some comments that I feel compelled to respond to in some way. And when I don’t agree with someone, I try to say so tactfully, because I think a person is more likely to hear and understand me, and because relationships are important to me. Thanks so much. You just did something good.

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  3. John Racette Coolidge
    John Racette
    @JohnRacette

    This is beautiful, Susan. It fortifies my heart. 

    • #3
  4. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Excellent post, @susanquinn 
    Is it natural to be bogged-down in our own problems and anguish, it’s easy to overlook the same on others – and I’d argue your post is also a good reminder that brightening someone’s day also gives a sunny reflection on ones own. And as a retail worker, believe me, the bar is pretty low to make my day. Just a simple “thank you”, or heck, just not being a jerk means a lot. Thank you Susan!

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  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Excellent post, @ susanquinn
    Is it natural to be bogged-down in our own problems and anguish, it’s easy to overlook the same on others – and I’d argue your post is also a good reminder that brightening someone’s day also gives a sunny reflection on ones own. And as a retail worker, believe me, the bar is pretty low to make my day. Just a simple “thank you”, or heck, just not being a jerk means a lot. Thank you Susan!

    You’re right–it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Every person who smiles back at me, or even starts up a conversation, brightens the day for both of us. Thanks, Jenna.

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  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    “Our true legacy is the trace of our influence for good. We may never see it, but it is there.  —Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks”

    So very true.  And a lovely post.  Thanks, Susan.

    ***

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  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Susan Quinn: But when all is said and done, the good acts we do will change the world.

    Yes, we should focus on doing good. From a Christian perspective, what matters most is not what we leave behind. We are here not to establish justice on earth but to be just.  Consequences matter and not just intentions. But we are called to welcome the Lord’s way so as to be the people He has chosen, not to determine where that way will lead us. 

    A body has many members which live in common action. But the members do not all live to guide the body. Each organ and each cell has a local or focused life within the body, often regardless of its fellow members. It is enough to live well in one’s small role. And if injury should set back the good work one has done, the body has yet benefited that one was once a part of it. 

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Consequences matter and not just intentions.

    I love everything you’ve said, @aaronmiller; beautifully expressed. The sentence I highlighted is especially important to me. I have often said, “Intentions are not enough.” I’m surprised at people who believe that just because they had good intentions, it’s enough; consequences are critically important. Thanks.

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  9. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    The short answer is: your writing.

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    navyjag (View Comment):

    The short answer is: your writing.

    Thank you, @navyjag

    • #10
  11. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    JennaStocker (View Comment):
    And as a retail worker, believe me, the bar is pretty low to make my day. Just a simple “thank you”, or heck, just not being a jerk means a lot.

    People who lord their Exalted Customer Status over the lowly bar-code beeper are miserable humans. They bustle, they huff, they sigh; they have so many things to do, and this – this – this girl doesn’t realize that they have a coupon. What’s that? It’s not for this pet-supplies chain, but the other one with the similar name? Well, you should honor it anyway, match their price, if you want to keep a customer. Can I speak to a manager?

    Just being civil and decent to strangers adds to the world’s storehouse of Good. And it’s so easy, you wonder what keeps people from behaving so.

    • #11
  12. Max Knots Member
    Max Knots
    @MaxKnots

    Susan Quinn: So when I praise my husband for making a delicious dinner or thank him for getting me a glass of water, I am doing good. When I send a special card to a friend to let her know that I am thinking of and praying for her, I am doing good. When I compliment a grocery store clerk on her attractive eyeglasses, I am doing good.

    When you write so well and poignantly, you are doing well! 

    • #12