Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memorial Day

Officially Memorial Day is to remember and honor those who have fought to preserve this country, the United States. The best military men and women have acted with great courage and honor. Many have given their lives.

I’d like to talk today about the example that the best of these men and women have set. Honor. Courage. Doing the right thing even when it’s scary or hard. Doing what has to be done even when you’re so tired you just want to give up.

Most of us will never go into battle and that’s a good thing. Most of us wish for a world without any war. We won’t win medals. They won’t erect statues to us for what we do.

That doesn’t mean what we do doesn’t matter. Each of us has a choice, every day, in how we live our lives. Each of us every day can choose to act with honor and courage and do the right thing—even when it’s hard. Not because someone will give us a medal if we do but because each time we make these kinds of choices, we help to create a better world.

I truly believe in the ripple effect. Everything we do impacts not only those with whom we interact directly but everyone those people interact with on a daily basis. We help to create the world we live in by the choices we make.

When we act with honor and courage, we may inspire others to do so as well. When we act and speak with kindness and compassion, we encourage others to treat those they encounter with kindness and compassion.

If you find it hard to believe that what you do matters, take a day and all day, no matter what the other person does, no matter how you feel, speak and act with kindness toward everyone you meet. Smile even before you know if the other person will smile back. Look for the best in the other person and connect with that. Do what’s right, even if it’s hard. Then watch how the world around you reacts. Some people will be suspicious because this isn’t what they are used to encountering. Odds are, though, that you will find your own day going more smoothly. Odds are you will find other people smiling at YOU. And though you may never know it, odds are that your kindness will have an impact on people you will never see or hear about.

I had an example of this just the other day. It was the last class of my Build a Novel course. People were talking after class and one woman commented that not only had my class impacted her writing but it has changed the way she interacts with her child. If she hadn’t spoken up, I would never have known that what I said and did in class had an impact on a child I don’t even know.

Most of us will never wear a uniform, never go into battle but each of us, every day, can work to bring about a better world—for ourselves and for our children and grandchildren. Each of us can help to preserve the best of our culture and society. WE can live up to the ideals of seeing each man and woman and child as created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can, by our example, help to create and preserve a society in which people act with decency and compassion and kindness and courage and honor.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.