Last week I posed the question “Am I making a difference?”
I also alluded to the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with actor Jimmy Stewart, (aka George Bailey) who in the course of the movie questioned if he made a difference in people’s lives. Of course as the story line goes, the answer was a resounding “Yes,” after it was pointed out how life for his community would have been drastically altered for the worse had he never been born.
For those of us who are in our senior years I believe on many occasions we find ourselves in that situation revisiting and reminiscing on our own personal history and determining how we affected those around us good, or bad. Sometimes the reviews are mixed as judged by others.
Imagine if like in the movie, we could have our own personal Clarence the Angel showing us snippets of our life and contrasting that with snippets of the same scenario without us in it to “make a difference?”
That is a powerful thought. We could go crazy constantly asking ourselves “What If?” I had not become a doctor, or firefighter? How many lives may have been lost because I wasn’t there?
As a retired teacher I know I affected thousands of young lives one way or another. The real question however, was it a positive effect? The student’s answers would obviously determine that. Many other teachers and firefighters and doctors are probably asking the same questions of themselves.
Throughout history we have revered famous people and their contributions to society. President Abe Lincoln suffered depression or melancholy as they called it in those days during his life. It is recorded he questioned many of his decisions as President and agonized over them constantly wondering if he was “making a difference.”
The good news is history has treated him well for his contributions in affecting the everyday lives of Americans and especially of the African-American community.
We also must realize we can “make a difference” in small ways as well. Sharing an encouraging word with someone, being a good listener, or simply opening doors for people or helping the elderly, feeding the hungry, finding shelter for the homeless, are just some of the ways to do so.
Like me unfortunately, many people think that to “make a difference” we have to make a big splash, garner headlines, be honored by the Chamber of Commerce, patted on the back and touted as a hero when in reality it is the little things that count touching people’s lives one at a time.
In an attempt to follow my own sage advice, let me close the column by reiterating it is not the headlines that “make the difference” unless the story behind the headlines touches people in such a way as to make the headline worthwhile.
Hopefully my writing a column for La Prensa makes a big difference too. But then again, only you the reader can determine that one.
Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.