Elie Wiesel, the writer who survived World War II’s concentration camps and lost many of his family there, thought about how to make a difference in this world and wrote:
But where was I to start? The world is so vast, I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had better start with my street. No: my home. No: my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself.
When I first read that, I thought that sounded like a pretty weak strategy.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see that it’s really the only strategy.
One of our greatest needs these days is to reawaken and explore the significance and the possibilities of what it means to be a human being, to be just one person.
We need to remind ourselves again and again some things that are undeniably true about being a person:
a. A human being is the most valuable thing in the world—and that’s what you are. There is nothing more valuable than a person.
b. You are greater than the sum of all your days, all your experiences.
c. You are greater than all your failures. And, just as important, you are greater than all your successes, all your joys.
d. You are unique, one-of-a-kind. That means that you have a place to fill that no one else can fill (and if you don’t fill it, it won’t get filled).
Jack Nicklaus, the golfer, was asked: “Who is the toughest competitor you ever faced?”
He said: “Myself. I can’t control the weather or the course conditions. I can’t control what the other golfers do. I can only control what I do.”
To be a person is a priceless gift…a journey…a challenge. It is tears and laughter, failure and success, wisdom and foolishness, richness and poverty.
And it is always the place to start.