We can spend our time arguing about where the world came from. We can argue the difference between the Big Bang and Let there be light, each of us ridiculing the other’s position and logic. We can let the debate descend into name-calling, abandon all respect for each other. We can entrench in our positions, refusing to budge no matter what evidence or argument is brought forward. We can decide we are right and all others are wrong and let that be that.
Or we can acknowledge the world is here, and we are in it, and how it got here and how we got here are not as important as some other questions we could ask. We can agree to disagree on where It All came from, and instead focus our attention on what to do with It All now.
We can ask ourselves, What do I want the world to look like when I’m finished with it?
And then we can get to work creating that world.
See, the world we live in is different from the one our parents gave us. The world they gave us was different from the one their parents gave them. The one their parents gave them was different from the one their grandparents gave their parents. And so on, generation to generation, farther back than any memory or book or tablet or temple records. Some of them decided to create something, bent their energies to leaving a world that was intentionally different from the one they had arrived in. Some of them, overwhelmed by the world, simply focused on surviving day to day in the hope that their children might be able to do something more than just survive. Some of them dreamed big and accomplished little. Some focused on their own gain to the exclusion of all others. But each of them left a world to their children that was different in some way than the one their parents left them.
Like them, you will leave a world that is different from the one you came into. You may try to stop the change, or embrace it, or reverse it, or become its author. But it will happen.
What will you do with it?
Will you spend your time shouting into the thunderstorm, proclaiming at the top of your lungs I am right even though so many ignore you?
Will you build monuments to yourself, amass a fortune for others to admire from a distance while those closest to you struggle to know you?
Will you attract followers and seek power? Will you make promises nobody expects you to keep in order to win votes fewer and fewer people care to cast?
Will you give up on yourself, work harder and harder in the hope that maybe your children will have it better than you did?
Will you focus on loving those around you, giving them all you can in the hope of making ripples that spread?
Will you embrace a cause, spend your life working to lift something or someone up?
Will you commit yourself to service, pledging your body and mind to defend those things you value most highly?
Or will you simply put your head down, limit your focus to the dozen steps in front of your face, demand entertainment to distract your mind from the things you don’t want to think about, and wander through your life with no thought to where you are headed?
There are as many ways to change the world as there are people to change it. Your way does not make mine less valid, nor does mine yours.
What matters is that we have the courage to ask ourselves What will I do with it?
What matters more is that we have the courage to act on our answer.