The last few decades there has been a big emphasis on taking care of self. Make yourself happy, no one else can or will. For people who tend to be passive or allow themselves to be walked on, this message is desperately needed. Overall though, I don’t think we Americans need to be more self-focused. We could stand to be more other-focused.
Whenever I drive my dad to have lunch with his cousins, it’s a good hour-long trek. It’s the area I grew up in so sometimes he has me drive past our old house. No matter what though, we stop at the fire hall. He was honored last year for 60 years of service. Volunteering for 60 years is not something that people do anymore, myself included. Short spurts if anything, right?
Anyhow, we stop at the hall and he has to roam around and check things out. I often wonder what is going through his mind. It got me thinking about old/new, which got me thinking about my wish for us to be other-minded.
On the one hand, I think Dad has earned the right to roam anytime he wants. He has earned the right to his opinions about how things should be. He is respected there, as he should be. I also think about knowing when to bow out. There is also wisdom in the young moving in and having fresh ideas. Sometimes the quality of things isn’t as good, sometimes the creativity is even better. It takes grace to balance the two – standing your ground and making way for others. I think Dad has done a pretty great job of managing both.
I got to thinking about any time that we embark on something new. It might be entering a new family, church, job, group of any sort. I can see those long-standing members looking at the newbie and thinking, “Who do they think they are waltzing in here and changing things?” And they would be right to a certain extent.
It would all work out beautifully if everyone thought about the other instead of themselves. It would be on the shoulders of the new to say, “Who am I to come in and rock the boat?” It would be on the shoulders of the old to say, “How about I make this new person and their ideas feel welcome? I’ve had my chance to do things my way.”
Perhaps it is not realistic, but I think the world would be a much nicer place if we acted in a way that put others first. If all parties did so, life could potentially be more balanced and we could cherish the wisdom of the old and celebrate the ingenuity of the new.
Well, at least I will try to do my part in those situations. I challenge you to try the same.