Time to think of someone else

Published 8:55 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

I think that no matter how long you live, the hardest thing to do is to consistently put others needs above your own.

That, more than most other things in the human experience, seems to be the great challenge of life.

Think about it. We are naturally very self-centered people.

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That isn’t necessarily an awful thing. It is, however, a by-product of our design. We are physically capable of seeing only through our eyes, hearing only through our own ears.

The only thoughts of which we are ever certain are our own.

And the main character in every story we live is, well, self.

Even when it is in the case of events that do not involve us, we know most readily how said events impact us.

So in a way, our own egocentric views of the world are not exactly our fault.

Still, it is hard to equate a lack of fault with an absence of responsibility.

We may not be able to fully understand the perspective of others, but that in no way removes the importance of attempting to do so.

It may sound hokey or corny or blatantly idealistic, but how much better would the world be if we based even a 10th of our actions and decisions on even the slightest betterment of someone else’s condition.

I know that seems in principle like a hefty call to action.

However, achieving such a goal may be far easier than we initially realize. Making an impact on someone’s day can range from a charitable contribution to something as simple as taking a buggy out of an empty parking spot and walking it to the cart corral.

Lawrence Kohlberg theorized that there are six stages of moral development.

As a kind of caveat to this philosophy on personal growth, he believed that the vast majority of people never reach the ultimate stage of moral development, which can most easily be described as doing good for the sake of doing good.

If his assessments are correct, that means that most people who spend time in this life do so without ever coming close to realizing their full potential.

What does that say about our world? Our society? Us?

So what is the challenge? As always, it is left for each individual to determine his own direction.

But how much better could life be – for us and those around us – if we made a concerted effort to understand someone else’s struggles, obstacles or just what went wrong in their day?

Or maybe even if we just took the time to offer someone else an umbrella in the rain or just discard our gum in a place where no one is likely to walk?

It may seem lunacy or frivolity to some, but the improvement of the human condition could well begin with the simplest of actions.