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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