Reading the paper this morning, I saw an article about a 71-year-old grandmother working as a crossing guard, who was killed by a speeding car as she stood in the crosswalk. There was a report of three young people killed while riding with a drunk driver. There was a child left unattended in a daycare bus who is fighting for his life.
In all cases, it struck me how these people’s lives were impacted so terribly – and irrevocably – by other people. The people making that impact made choices – bad choices – that resulted in the death or injury of innocent people. If the person hadn’t sped, if the person hadn’t driven drunk, and if the bus driver had made just one walk up and down the aisles, all of those people impacted would be living life today with their families.
How much impact do we have on another person’s life, at each and every moment, that we don’t even think about? Of course it isn’t always life or death, thank God. But often our consideration and approach to another person has the opportunity for great impact – either positive or negative. When someone smiles at me, I feel differently than if someone scowls at me or criticizes me. If someone takes the time to hold a door, I feel differently than if someone pushes past me to get to the counter first. If someone stops to wave me into traffic, I feel differently than if someone makes sure their car moves up so that I cannot ease into the traffic line.
In small – and bigger – ways throughout the day, we have the opportunity to make choices that are either beneficial to others, or harmful. In our rush, in our haste, in our “me first” attitudes we often lose perspective that others around us are impacted by everything we do, or don’t do.
Because our filters focus on “me” and what’s right for me, our tendency is to be concerned with our need to get somewhere, or our desire to take care of something, or our focus on what matters to us. When we get too focused on what WE need, to the exclusion of others, we can actually negate how every choice we make also impacts someone else. Once I was in a car with my family and my husband was in a rush; one of my smaller children said, “It makes my stomach feel sick when you drive so fast.” What a great in-the-moment reminder that our actions impact everyone in our universe!
Think about each action you take today. Who else is in your universe that will be impacted by what you do? How much are your actions rippling through to others? What choices are you making that will cause someone else’s day to be changed by what you do?
Don’t act without thought. Consider the ripple effect.