You and I are living through a strange time, a time that will be written about in history books for decades and centuries to come. We are living through a time when the pressures and challenges we face are causing many among us to choose to perpetuate cycles of fear, anger, and greed. Yet this is also a time when others around us are just as prominently motivated by choices that sustain love, compassion, and generosity in their lives and the lives of those around them.
Make no mistake: These are not easy times we find ourselves in. These are times when our character is being tested. These are times that produce extreme responses. And each of our responses is the answer to a critical question: Who are you and what do you believe?
It is worth remembering as we navigate these times that it is always up to us to choose the responses we will make to the challenges we face. We always have a choice about how we will respond. We always get to choose who we are and what we believe. All of our responses to a situation say exactly who we are and what we believe.
We always get to choose the Source of our beliefs and values–it may be the Bible, it may be the Quran, it may be the Torah, it may be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It may be the silent question “What would my grandfather do in this situation?” To be defendable, our Source and our belief system must value people and respect the rights of others. But the point is, we must choose to follow that Source once we identify it. We always have a choice about what voices and influences we are going to listen to when it comes to deciding what we really stand for…and where we draw the lines of right and wrong in our life.
We always get to choose whether our words and actions align with what we say we believe. When we ignore our Source, and make decisions that do not align with our best selves, we make the world a darker, more dangerous place, and we make our lives smaller and more self-absorbed. On the other hand, when we choose words and actions that align with our most deeply held beliefs, we deepen our character, we make the world a better place, and we are better positioned to serve the larger human family.
We always get to choose whether we are focusing on things we can control, or on things we cannot control. When we choose to focus on that which we cannot control, we make excuses. When we choose to focus on that which we can control, we make decisions and we move forward in our lives.
We always get to choose the commitments we will make, and honor, in our relationships. When we make commitments but fail to honor them, we damage our relationships and undermine our own sense of whom we are meant to be. When we open ourselves up to making and keeping relational commitments — commitments that serve others and support our connections to people– something extraordinary happens. Eventually, someone we have touched in a positive way tells us about the impact we have had on their life, the obstacles we have helped them to overcome, and the contributions we have inspired them to make. When that happens, we know we are on the right track.
Our actions, our focus, and our commitments tell the world who we really are and what we really believe. We always get to choose the person we will share with the larger world. As we look for ways to make sense of the many challenges that lie before us in 2020 and beyond, let’s be absolutely certain we are sharing the highest and best expressions of ourselves with the rest of the human family.