This is probably more words than you care to read. It doesn’t matter if 10 people read this, or 1,000 people read this, or 1,000,000 people read this, I’m wagering that half of you won’t read to the end. I don’t mean skimming to the bottom of the page. I mean reading each word and digesting each meaning.
Of those that do actually read what I’ve written, my guess is that 20% will not understand what is here, 70% will not care, and of those that do care 98% will not do anything about it. That doesn’t leave very many of you, does it? So, why am bothering to write this? If I can influence one person, just one, to step outside the box, stroll off into a greater future and not look back, then I feel I have accomplished what I have set out to do.
Life is short and full of surprises. The majority of us spend our time acquiring things we will not need five years from now. Hell, most of those things won’t be needed one year from now. Oh, sure. We want them, so we go out and get them. Do we need them? No. But, life is not about needs, it’s about wants. And, we want to do so much better than our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
Think about this for a minute. On the day after Christmas in 2004 roughly 3/4 of a million people lost their lives in one of the deadliest earthquakes to be recorded in modern history. It was not the movement of the ground that was responsible for all of those deaths, but the resulting tsunami that ended the lives of so many. The day before was full of happiness and joy. The day after…well, the day after was not full of happiness and joy.
The people that lost their lives in Southeast Asia that day had hopes, dreams, and what they thought would be a future. They had needs and wants. The day before, some of them acquired wants they did not need. Some acquired needs they desperately wanted. But for all of them, those acquisitions were for naught. In less time than it takes to get your cup of coffee at your local Starbucks their lives came to an end.
Why do I mention something so depressing? Life is full of happiness and joy. But it has its depressing moments, too. Suppose, while standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for that double latte chocolate mocha double espresso low fat grande cup of $6 coffee, you come face to face with death. That would definitely put a damper on the remainder of your life, wouldn’t it? At that point I am positive you would give up everything you’ve ever wanted in life just to live another 24 hours. At that precise moment what are those wants worth to you?
Now think about the child that goes to bed hungry. In the United States alone one if every five children live in a household that lacks the necessary resources to provide them with adequate food. They wake up hungry, and they go to bed hungry. That, dear reader, is in the richest country in the world. What about in those countries that are not so economically secure?
Roughly three million children, worldwide, die from hunger related problems each year. That’s a three followed by six zeroes. There’s enough food thrown away in the world to feed ten times that many children. Yet we still want that $6 cup of coffee, don’t we?
I’m not saying you could save the children of the world by foregoing that cup of java. I’m only showing how a child ‘needs’ the food. You ‘want’ the coffee. Would you give up a want to satisfy a need if you knew that the end was near? Only you can answer that question.
What I’m advocating is that we live our lives as though it were midnight on Christmas, 2004, and we have but 58 minutes left to live. Or, how about something a little closer to home? It’s 7:40 am on May 18, 2018. You just happen to be at a high school in a small Texas town. Your life, if you live, is going to change forever.
If you could trade your material wants for one more day of life, would you do it? Would you trade your wants to help satisfy the needs of just one other person? Would you be willing to knock on your neighbor’s door and ask Mr. and Mrs. Jones to help you in your quest to meet the needs of another? Or do your wants cast such a dark shadow that you cannot see that others might need more than you want?
We cannot all be Mother Teresa, or a doctor without borders. But we can all forego a want to help another meet a need. Life can end without notice. You may never get to sip that cup of coffee you so want. But, you can help another in need, even from the beyond. Think about that while you stand in line at Starbucks.
Don’t wait until the ground moves, or the gunman fires. Step outside the box and let one moment of your life help another in their moment of need.
So, sing like you’re Pavarotti, dance like you could be Baryshnikov, preach like the reincarnation of Graham, and live like there is no tomorrow. Help just one child go one day without hunger. For the bell tolls sweetest for those who can help another enjoy life one more moment. Their needs are much greater than your wants.
Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.