The Instinct to Make Things Better

It has been difficult to arrive at a topic for this week’s entry. The news has been filled with grief, helplessness, anger and worry and it feels disrespectful to ignore that. Regardless of our personal opinions, beliefs and politics, we can all feel sadness at how difficult life is for so many and how fortunate many of us are.

I heard Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings say something on Friday that stopped me in my tracks and made me turn to this computer quickly, before I forgot it. In response to the findings of the Baltimore Attorney General concerning the death of a young African-American man in police custody, he said:

“As we approach the evening of our lives, we want our children to have a better morning.”

Isn’t that true? Isn’t that what motivates all of us to step outside of ourselves and find some way to make a difference? Whether we’re helping the homeless, building programs that help women, volunteering to protect children in need, organizing disaster relief efforts, arguing for justice in our courts or our legislatures, or taking to the streets in responsible, peaceful protest, surely we are all motivated by some instinct to see our lives as having been meaningful to someone other than simply ourselves. Surely we are motivated by an instinct to bring about change in systems that leave people unprotected, unsupported, under-represented or under-resourced. In finding some way to make a difference, aren’t we all seeking the knowledge that we have made some part of the world better for those who share it with us and those who follow in our footsteps?

I”m so very grateful for that instinct. I’m certain it’s what propels us forward, as individuals and communities, I’d hate to think where we’d all be without it.