One exemplary act may affect one life or even millions of lives. All those who set standards for themselves, who strengthen the bonds of community, who do their work creditably and accept individual responsibility, are building the common future. -John W. Gardner
Who teaches us to set standards for ourselves that will affect other people? The future of the world is in our hands–right here, right now–yet most of us never have been shown the vision that would allow us to see just how our actions right now will affect tomorrow’s world. We are role models, and we constantly are teaching those who watch us lessons about what it means to work and to contribute to the world.
If a young man or woman watches us do everything we can to cut corners and do our job as quickly as possible without worrying about quality or honesty, what kinds of lessons will he or she take into the future? And what will that person teach his or her children years from now?
Our contribution to the world is very real, day after day. The encouragement or the compliments that we share today will be a part of tomorrow, as will the insults or the discouragement. If we accept responsibility for all that we do today, we’ll be proud tomorrow of our accomplishments and our willingness to accept responsibility, and we’ll teach others the value of doing so.
It can be very difficult for us to see that the common future is in our hands. Too many people feel that the common future is in the hands of only the politicians or the teachers or the people who work in law enforcement. And while their professional contributions certainly are in the public eye, each of those people also makes personal contributions each day that has nothing to do with their work.
We can make this world a better place–you and me. We are contributing to the world every day, and it’s up to us to decide just what that contribution will be.
Questions to ponder:
1. In how many ways do you contribute to the future of the world?
2. How many people have been great teachers to you, even if it didn’t even seem that they were truly teaching?
3. Why do we tend not to think that we can have any effect on the “common future”?
For further thought:
You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich person. -Seth Parker