“People do what they can.” Someone said this to me recently. And I thought about it. I don’t really agree. For the most part, I don’t think that people do what they can. We do what they want to. And there can be many motivations for what we do, and the motivations are often self serving.
If we did what we can, what we are capable of, this world would be a far different place. We can feed every person on the planet. But we don’t. We can significantly stop the progress of global climate change. But we don’t. We can create an economy that is far more equitable and accessible. But we don’t. We can eradicate prejudice and oppression. But we don’t. We can do a lot of things. But we don’t. So, I can’t agree with the generalization, “People do what they can.” Basically, people do what they choose to do. Sometimes those choices are severely limited, but for most of us, we do what we choose to do.
And our choices make a difference. They can be very significant.
Here’s a mundane example. I had to go to Lowe’s Home Improvement store this week. There are two of them near me. I went to the first. What I was interested in was too far up to reach. In addition, I wanted it in a different color. So, when a salesperson came by and asked if I needed help, I said yes. I wanted to see the item closer. He could not get it down. I was not allowed up the ladder. Did it come in the other color? I was told to go on the website and find out. It was basically, “No, I can’t help you.”
Then I went to the other Lowe’s. The salesperson told me the item could not be gotten down. Could I go up the ladder? “I don’t know anything about it,” he said and walked away. So, I went up the ladder. Was there another color? He checked on it for me. When I made my selection, there was only one left, and it was missing a screw so he gave it to me. No paying for it. Then he ordered what I needed and told me when I could pick them up. It was basically, “Yes, I can help you.” The first salesperson could have done the same thing, but didn’t.
We do what we choose to do. We have the ability to help, to serve, to care, to invest ourselves in the community and the needs of others. We also have the ability to be self absorbed, do what is easiest, protect our interests, and live for ourselves.
Will we do what we can do? For the life of the world?
Lectionary readings for today:
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Prayer: May we affirm our amazing power and potential by living for the good of the world. Amen.