What is your motivation for doing the things you do? Are you trying to please a friend or family? Have you got some eternal to-do list? Are you trying to derive some extrinsic or intrinsic pleasure or satisfaction?
In the 2016 State of the Union Address, President Obama discussed things that needed to be done or that had been accomplished. He mentioned several things to protect hard working families, creating tuition free college opportunities, protecting American economic concerns, helping Africa and fighting disease. These, of course, were just a few of the things mentioned in his remarks. However, associated with each of these challenges he emphasized that “It is the right thing to do.”
How often do we do things because “it is the right thing to do”? Of all choices we make, doing things because they are the “right thing” builds and reinforces our character more so than any other motivator.
I offer the following illustration of this principle. It concerns my friend Joe (name changed to protect his privacy), and a choice he recently made.
He relates the following experience.
“So last night, I was on my way to a party.
Near 45th and Main, I saw a mature women who was not walking very well and carrying two large shopping bags. It was around 7pm, so it was dark.
I pulled into DI parking lot and swung around to ask her if she needed a ride (assuming she lived close). She was looking for the bus stop so she could catch it to take Trax to go home. I told her I would take her to Trax.
She got into my car, and she told me she living with her daughter and her kids. They had just lost their apartment and had a place in Magna. The kids didn't have winter clothes so she had shopped at DI.
Her phone wasn't working so she couldn't call her daughter. But, through it all, she seemed to be okay. In fact, I felt she was contented with life, even with her travails. And to think there are lots of people experiencing her same predicaments in life, and many are facing even harsher battles.
So everyone out there, be thankful for everything you have. Many of us get to choose what coat from many we want to wear. We can call a friend when we have a need. We can or go out to eat and not even think about the cost.
There are many people who do not have a lot of options. This is sad, when we live in the richest country in the world. In many ways, we are the poorest when it comes to our fellowman.”
This is an instance where a simple choice made someone else’s life better. It didn’t require financial resources. It didn’t expend a great deal of time or energy. However, it made someone’s life challenges just a little easier. What it did require was caring.
As we cruise along toward the holiday season, and all through the year, maybe we can notice someone around us who could benefit from a small measure of kindness that we have the ability to offer.
When Joe helped that lady get along her way, he wasn’t doing it for a pat on back. He wasn’t doing it for some financial reward. He wasn’t even doing it to check something off on some eternal bucket list. He did because it was “the right thing to do.”
As we go screaming down the home stretch toward this year’s elections, what is guiding our decisions? We’ve seen examples all around us of candidates being supported for the sake of political expediency. We see people and platforms supported because of a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. What can I get from it?
As we examine our choices in voting, why are we making the selections we choose? Perhaps we will have the opportunity to influence one friend, one family member, one colleague, or one stranger to consider their motivation for voting for candidates and their positions. As we well know, that one vote can make an impact. Use your choices and influence to make selections guided by the principle, “It is the right thing to do.”