We have been looking each week at one of the dimensions of a whole life:
mind, spirit, body, character, identity, capability, love, contribution.
For each dimension, I have been offering you first steps to build it.
We have arrived at contribution, where all our dimensions come together.
All the ways we have built and developed ourselves
and all the ways we have grown
come to fruition in the gifts we give.
As we have seen,
to be capable to give our gifts to the world
we need power,
we need knowledge,
and—most of all—we need love.
Our capacity to love and be loved is our core capability.
So, let’s suppose…
Let’s suppose we have the power,
and the love
to give our gifts.
Does this mean we are ready to contribute them to the world?
No. There is something essential that is still missing.
What is missing is our WHY.
Our reason for contributing our gifts to the world.
Our first step to become ready to make a contribution to the world
is to ask ourselves:
WHY do I want to contribute?
Take a few minutes and write down your answer
to this fundamental question.
Get your own thoughts down on paper
before you read any more of my thoughts. 🙂
Maybe you wrote:
“Well, actually I don’t HAVE a motivation to contribute to the world.”
“I’m already contributing on other levels. I can’t add the world to my list!”
“I was taught that I should contribute to the world, so I guess I’ll try…”
“I am so pissed with the way the world is that I HAVE to do something!”
“What’s the point? Nothing will change no matter WHAT I do!”
Maybe your answer is completely different from any of these.
No matter what our answer is, it’s important.
It tells us our starting place.
Maybe we are starting from a place of anger, cynicism, or helplessness.
But there’s no law that says we have to stay there!
Let’s be brave, instead, and take another step forward.
Let’s ask ourselves:
What has the world given ME?
We are so used to looking at what it hasn’t given us
(respect, a partner, a job, a good income, a house, success, etc.)
this may feel like an odd question.
What have we been given???
we live in a democracy.
Not in a totalitarian dictatorship.
Have we thought about what our lives would be like
if we lived in North Korea?
Or if the Nazis had won World War II?
Living as we do–in a democracy—
we have been given an incredibly precious gift:
the gift of freedom.
Yes, I understand that none of us are entirely free,
and some of us are far less free than others.
All democracies are works in progress—
that’s why they need our gifts!!!
But see if you can gently allow your heart to open up
and be grateful for the freedom you do have.
It was hard won.
Live up to the belief of John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers,
who wrote to his wife in 1804:
While Life and Breath and being last, I shall love my Country:
and neither the Interests of Posterity nor the Happiness of the present
Generation, can ever be indifferent to me.
I love the People of America:
there is not one of their present favourites who loves them more.
I believe them incapable of ingratitude.
Back in 1777, Adams had not been so sure about us…
At that time, he wrote to his wife:
Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation,
to preserve your Freedom!
I hope you will make a good Use of it.
If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven,
that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.
So let’s ask ourselves:
Was Adams right that we are incapable of ingratitude?
Do we understand how much it cost his Generation
to preserve our freedom?
I surely hope so.
But even if we are grateful for our freedom, is that enough?
No. It takes more than gratitude
to preserve and build freedom.
It takes devotion.
So who among us, in our present time, has the devotion?
Who among us is willing
to devote our capability, our love and our gifts
to the common purpose
of building our freedom to a higher level?
I am willing. Are you?
I hope, deep in your heart,
you will answer:
“Yes, I am willing.
I will make building freedom
part of my purpose in life.”
It would give me joy if you would write
and tell me about the gifts inside you
that you will love to contribute!
Will it be your words,
All our gifts are beautiful
and all are needed!
Let’s listen together
as Lincoln calls all of us
in his immortal Gettysburg address:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation,
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for
those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can
not hallow — this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far
above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which
they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for
which they gave the last full measure of devotion —
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain —
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom —
and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not
perish from the earth.
November 19, 1863
Thank you for your devotion.