The hard job of thinking of others first
Every now and then something big happens in life that causes us to mention how humbled we suddenly are because of the experience.
It only happens every now and then. When we mention our newfound humility, it is usually in a moment of disbelief. We are so very used to making everything about ourselves.
When someone asks us for a favor, we immediately start to measure what we might gain from lending our precious time and talent to others. We ask “what’s in it for me?” From beginning to end, life is about you, others come second.
This philosophy is growing in popularity as we begin to introduce new words into our vocabulary, such as selfie. Picture taking used to be a practice of documenting others. Today, the photographer is on both sides of the lens.
We are the judge and jury. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We don’t serve but expect to be served and what has been lost in this change of personal perspective is causing decay in societal connections and human relations.
When I asked a group of high school students this week why English was an important language, they answered by telling me that it was because “we” speak it. To them, what they live and practice in everyday life is not only correct but also better than what other people do.
You know, those other people. The ones in faraway places that are different. The kind of people that make us uncomfortable because they choose, in our minds, to speak other languages, eat strange foods, and kiss each other on both cheeks when greeting.
They aren’t as good as us because they are not like us. Why can’t people be more like we are? Maybe that’s the answer to all our problems. For now, we’ll continue focusing on ourselves and hope that who we are rubs off on others.
When something humbles us, what are we really admitting? Maybe we are acknowledging that humility is something we are not used to feeling. Being on a high horse is fun until you lose a particular perspective. Getting knocked down hurts but is sometimes needed, unless we learn to stay at level ground.
The real heroes that we read about and have the most impact in our lives are those that put others first. Mother Theresa comes to mind. What a lady.
As a Christian, I try to live my life by expressing J.O.Y. In the order of these three letters is where I set my priority; Jesus, others, and then yourself. I admit that I fall short all the time and I am humbled on many occasions.
One of the most challenging things in life is to not watch out for yourself first. We hear the opposite all the time. Take care of yourself, and the rest will be taken care of for you. History is proving that this philosophy isn’t working out so well.
The more we watch out for others, the stronger our sense of responsibility for solving problems that unite communities. If it suits you, try the J.O.Y. way of life. You’ll find that putting yourself last isn’t a bad thing.