The Decisive Element: You

Have you ever thought about the idea that maybe you are connected to everything? That everything you do has a direct effect on another thing or person? That regardless of how many times this world screams, “every man for himself”, every living thing around you is necessary? It is surely instilled in us from a young age that we have control over ourselves. I often wish they taught us more about the power we hold within us to break or build each other.

If life was a mountain, & everyone’s purpose was to climb to the top, what kind of person would you be on that mountain? If someone was injured, and they lied directly in your path on your journey to the top, would you call them useless & trample right over them? If someone lost their footing and was barely hanging on, crying desperately for help, would you leave them to fall to their death? In a world where selfish-culture is the norm, it seems as though we are achieving great success by doing what is best for ourselves, disregarding anything that does not serve us. Is that what success is now-a-days? Drowning others so that you have more air to breathe?

“Absurd!” many might exclaim. “Killing a man is wrong, most everyone would never do such a thing!” they say.

So it is not okay to kill a man, but it is okay to bruise his heart & break his soul.

So it is not okay to kill a man, but it is okay to leave him for dead.

I am afraid that in today’s world, life is a mountain, with a whole lot of murderers racing their way to the top.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that loving yourself is a crime. I am saying the opposite: loving yourself means loving your world. Have all the money in the world, the biggest house in the city, the most luxurious lifestyle- if by the end of it all you are left with only yourself & your possessions, you will die a nobody. You will die powerless. This world will not fail to forget about you, just as you forgot about it.

In my sophomore year of high school, I came across the words of John Wolfgang Von Goethe, and they changed my perspective on life from that point forth. They read:

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration; I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

Nothing that is emphasized as “important” in today’s world will matter when we are all dead. Our careers, our savings, our possessions, our status, will all be irrelevant. The only thing that will be left behind is our essence. How did we impact the world beyond what is tangible? I once read, “Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in such a way that they will never be the same as before.” Everybody has a dark side, some people just hide it better than others. As I wrote about in my “7 months” piece, what is supposed to be the human cycle of love has turned into a cycle of bitterness. I don’t want to be the something that changes someone for the worst. I want to be the something that changes someone for the better. Many fail to recognize the true immensity of their power. Perhaps we recognize it, but it is, as Goethe described, frightening. That doesn’t change the fact that you have the power. Will you hurt, or heal? Will you be a tool of torture or an inspiration? Will you contribute to a cycle of love or hate?

Will you treat the world as the mess it has become, or will you treat her as what she is capable of, leaving your mark on her, never to be forgotten?

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