You might have heard the phrase, “May her memory be for a blessing,” when people discuss Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death. Molly Conway wrote a wonderful essay. I encourage you to read it. You also might like Rabbi Sacks’ essay about tshuvah, tfilla, and tzedaka.
And, I hope you join me in mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I am sure I personally benefited from her lifelong advocacy for gender equality.
If you also want to be a blessing for others, you might like these questions:
- How can I live as my best self?
- How can I live a just life?
- How can I leave the world a better place?
All of these are our legacy—how we might be a blessing for others.
I’m not going to deal with the first two questions, but let’s examine the question about leaving the world a better place.
Separate Your Control, Influence, Concern
You’ve probably seen Covey’s circles before. The inside circle is what you can control—often yourself. Maybe some of your family. I think of recycling: we can decide as a household what we will recycle and how. I can’t control my neighbors.
However, I have more influence than I might imagine about any particular issue. If we keep the recycling issue, I can influence my town in these ways:
- Clarification about what I can recycle
- Times and locations I can recycle
- Adding or subtracting from the recycling list
I can use email, phone calls, petitions, and more.
I can vote because this is a town-wide issue.
However, while I might be concerned about garbage and recycling across the world, I can influence my town. I can control myself.
Understand Your Concerns
I often discover I react to news or information—that’s the big circle of concern. I use those reactions to identify a circle of influence. And, I start with myself, because controlling other people is not possible for me.
And, I look for ways I can use my reactions to create actions I can consider.
You and I might share this problem: I have many reactions to all the news items. I want to address all of society’s ills, right now.
That’s impossible. (The all and the right now.) Instead of trying to have it all, let’s choose some possible actions.
Identify Your Possible Actions
If you take the long view, what’s in your circle of control for the issue(s) you want to address? Can you identify three actions that you can take now, or soon?
Who else might you influence, to join you to take those actions? Maybe each person you influence needs different actions.
And, is it worth your time to extend your circle of concern outward? Or, do people already share your concern? Maybe they don’t agree with you.
I don’t try to change people’s minds if they don’t agree. I try to agree on common values—and not address common truth, reasoning, or actions.
If you don’t act on your concerns, you can’t leave the world a better place. And, for me, that’s how our memory might be for a blessing.
The question this week: How will your memory be for a blessing?
- How Much Imperfection Can We Live With?
- When Do You Notice Your Context Changed?