What is it that is most important to you? For some it is the pursuit of money, for others fame. Some people prioritize acquiring the fastest car, the biggest house, or their version of the ideal physical form. Perhaps for you the pursuit of knowledge, family, a great job, or a large network of friends is most important. We can prioritize whatever we like, but is there anything worthy of being called “the most important?” It is my sincere belief that the most important thing any of us will ever do is that which will make the greatest difference in the lives of others.
My basis for determining this is predicated on one simple fact: As human beings, we need each other to survive. Collaboration and cooperation have been key to everything we associate with the experience of being human (this is a point I stress a lot, and I will continue to do so). The need to work in unison has strengthened us. It has been responsible for our social fabric, and it has resulted in our interconnectedness. When we go to the grocery store, the products on the shelves have been grown, harvested, processed, packaged, shipped, sorted, and stocked. Before we buy our box of KD or Hot Pockets, hundreds of people have had to do their jobs. Without those people, we wouldn’t eat, and this is the case with everything we take for granted in Western society.
Once considering this in its entirety, one cannot escape the realization that we all have a societal obligation to act with the best interests of the many in mind. The problem is that a lot of us don’t do this. Despite relying on each other, we seem to be inherently selfish. We cheat, lie, and steal to get ahead. We look out for ourselves with no regard for who we hurt. We consume and consume with no thought as to who might be starving to death because of our consumption. We are not inherently evil, but we are, for the most part, unaware. When we act in ways that hurt or put others at a disadvantage, we are acting against those upon whom we rely. As time goes on, conflicts become more fierce. Instead of hand-to-hand combat, there are now nuclear and chemical weapons that can decimate thousands of people at a time. The mindless taunts of bullies in the schoolyard have been replaced by fear-induced beatings and murders. This doesn’t make any sense.
Treating others with compassion, understanding, empathy, and kindness not only makes perfect sense, but it also encourages the social fabric that we so desperately need to maintain; and the ways in which we do this are different for everybody. Some people protest and picket while others take a stand on social media. Some make a career of advocacy while others go about their lives passively encouraging those around them to be more accepting. No matter what the method of your efforts, you have a responsibility to those around you. You may make a difference in the life of one, or the lives of many. You may not be a leader in the discussion, but be a part of it. You may have no financial contribution to give, but your talents are just as important. Always remember that when you make a difference in the life of one person, the lives of those around that person are also impacted. This is how mass change is created … change spreads through the masses and paradigms begin to shift. No matter what your situation or impact, the most important thing you will ever do is that which will make the greatest difference in the lives of others.