Live long enough to make a difference
Commentary by Paul Graves
Author’s note: This column is the latest in a series of letters I’ve written to my grandchildren from time to time since my first was born in 1997.
Dear Katie, Claire and Andy,
It’s been a long time since I wrote you a letter. A weekly Zoom visit is great, but writing to you makes me think more deeply about some of the values worth cultivating.
I am writing this letter on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I hope you enjoyed reading King’s words and some of his speeches. They inspired us and moved us to become better people in our quest for justice.
About the Montgomery bus boycott published in 1958, like this quote from King’s memoir, A Walk to Freedom, he said: It is the existence of justice.
For me, the existence of justice must fill the void created by the absence of tension in every situation.
I am also aware that Spokesperson Review will publish this letter on January 23rd, just four days before Claire’s 23rd birthday. Claire, I hope your graduate school classmates can help you enjoy your day. But I hope they and you and your brothers find ways to “MLK” each other and somewhere in the world around you to make even the smallest difference.
About 14 years ago, I saw a small poster on the wall of a church. That simple message still catches my attention.
ME: God, how long will I live?
God: Long enough to make a difference.
For as long as I can remember, something in my heart has driven my heart to make a healthy change in someone’s life. Not in your own life, but in someone else’s life. Children, it is no surprise that putting in some effort has always made a healthy difference in my own life.
Today I am very proud of you three. Because I see what you are doing now striving to make a healthy difference in the lives of others. You have learned well what your parents taught you about respecting people and trying to improve their lives in some way.
Here I am reminded of another Martin Luther King Jr. quote. This makes a lot of sense when you think about how you and everyone can make a small difference that can make a big difference to yourself and society. human career. Engage yourself in the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make yourself a better person, you will make your country a better nation, and you will live a better world. “
“Noble struggle for equal rights” is a phrase worth remembering. I know of a few instances where people stood up to people who for some reason disrespected others. I also know that you stood up for someone who was bullied or looked down upon.
These instances may seem minor compared to what others do. But don’t compare your efforts with others.
Comparing is pointless competition. Especially when it takes an effort to treat others equally. Remember to be healthy for others in the normal way of everyday life.
That simple act may make a bigger difference to that person than we expected.
Now let’s go back to that silly phrase on the church wall. If God wants us to live long enough to make a difference, I have more opportunities to make a difference than you do, simply because of my age.
But my opportunity is more important than yours. In our own way, in our own time, we are each in a business that makes a difference.
So, kids, keep trying!
Paul Graves is a retired and refocused United Methodist minister, a long-time resident of Sandpoint, Idaho, and a former city councilor and mayor. His second career was in his work Social for the Elderly and since 2005 he has been the lead of the Elder Advocates, the Ministry of Consulting and Education on Elderly Issues. Since 1992, Graves has served as a volunteer pastor at the Bonner He Community He Hospice. His columns appear regularly in the Faith and Values section of Spokesman-Review, he also writes the Dear Geezer column for the Bonner County Daily Bee, and he writes a bi-weekly Geezer Forum on Sandpoint’s aging issues. is also the host of