Thursday, July 07, 2011

Live and Let Live

For years, that old adage has been my life's guiding philosophy.  I find it beautiful in its simplicity: accept that everyone on this planet has her own ideas of what is right for her that may not match my own, and that's okay. Better than okay really as I think the world would be a dull place if everyone said and did the same things. And though her choices may be something that I would never, ever consider for myself, I acknowledge her right to make them. Just as I believe that I have the right to make choices that others would never, ever consider making for themselves.

This maxim has served me well over the years in sticky situations varying from eating with people who insist on putting ketchup on their scrambled eggs to the stay at home mom vs. the working mom debate. I understand that my choice to stay home with my children was what was best at the time for my family, and that Betsy Ann's choice to go back to work was what was best for hers. Her choice in no way invalidates or belittles mine--they're just different. And now that I'm going back to work, Mitsy Sue's decision to remain home is not in competition with mine. They're parallels. Two paths that reach the same destination: the creation of a loving home for our children. No judging or catty remarks necessary.

So yes, on the surface Live and Let Live seems to be an admirable sentiment to aspire toward. But upon closer reflection, I find it to be a little too passive for how I truly want to live my life.

Do I want to:

live my comfortable life and just let others live scrambling from day to day to feed their families?

live my life loving my children and just let other children suffer from abuse and neglect?

live my life working for a fair wage and just let others work for pennies an hour in horrid conditions? 

live my life without experiencing bigotry and just let others face discrimination based on the color of their skin?

live my life free to love and marry whomever I choose and just let others be denied the same right?

No. I don't. And while I understand that I am only one person and cannot begin to heal even the smallest fraction of the world's ills,  I do know that tiny acts of kindness can make the day a bit brighter, even if only for the briefest of moments. And to that one person, it may make all the difference in the world. 

And so I am changing my personal mantra from Live and Let Live to Live and Lift Lives. I will aim everyday to not only let others exist, but to do whatever I can to make that existence ever the slightest bit happier. Easier. From returning a shopping cart for a harried mother to donating time and resources to worthy causes--big or small--it all matters. Not just to that mother, but to me, too. Because the more grace I share with others, the more I collect for myself. 
Live and Lift Lives--perhaps mine most of all.

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