We All Make a Difference

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D.

How many times have we wished we had the ability to express ourselves when we are the recipients of goodness as demonstrated by others? Sometimes we just look in amazement at the many people who cross our paths during our journey who have had an impact on our lives. Perhaps we take these individuals for granted or even come to expect the different episodes that give us fulfillment.

Each morning when we awake to a new day, we can also find new things that will brighten our day or make the experience more exciting in so many ways. But then we forget all too often to just say a simple “thank you.” We tend to forget those who impact our lives—the postal worker, or the law enforcement officers, or the gardener, or even the grocery clerk, and for sure the men and women who proudly serve our country. If we stop to think, there are so many groups and individuals who are part of us in so many ways.

Even Scripture demonstrates how easy it is to forget until time slides by us and we are forgotten as we forget. People’s minds sometimes are enslaved, not for thinking differently, but because we choose to ignore the blessings we receive. We take the benevolence offered by God and squander it on complacency and the desire to be part of a greater society rather than contribute to it.

Then I watch a movie titled It’s a Wonderful Life. And each time, I find something different in the message. It is a timeless story of greed and goodness combined to emphasize that each contradicts the other. The miracles experienced in this film come from the fact that adversity sometimes wakes us up to reality—the reality that goodness comes with effort, and greed rears its ugly head so easily.

No person is alone if she or he has friends. And no person is alone if he or she has faith. I believe they go together. Our faith is somehow strengthened when we can hold a hand or be together as we share the difficulties, as well as the goodness. Each of us represents a microscopic view of the world. If we listen and watch, we can see the whole world in front of us—from dialogue, to accent, to wishes, and completion.

We may look differently on the outside, but inwardly we share the same needs and desires. We all need compassion and caring, acceptance and togetherness. Most importantly, however, is our desire for life. If we really think about it, we would see that our values are no different than those of the person sitting next to us, or living next door to us, or residing miles away, or even in distant lands.

Albert Einstein, I believe, summed it up best: “Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we know: That we are here for the sake of others … above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.”

I could not help but think as I read these words how much impact we have on the lives of those we have contact with every day. We probably will never know to what extent we truly affect their lives. I do know that every time people gather, either for prayer or to celebrate a special occasion or share a sorrow, there is a feeling of contentment and satisfaction in the knowledge that no one need be alone.

The men and women whom we choose to lead us in these difficult times of terror, uncertainty, desecrations, hopefully, are answering a noble cause—the cause of survival and continuity. Even in our small corner of this great universe, it does matter, all lives matter, our faith matters.