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It Ain’t About You

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By Bill Koch, editor

By Bill Koch

Did you never notice how the favorite subject of many columnists is themselves?

After all, what better subject for the forlorn writer than to delve into the archives of personal experience and observation and opine on the meaning – or meaningless – of life?

 What makes better fodder to fill the white spaces of news print and web sites than the lonely meanderings of introspective scribes?

Writers do hold an advantage. They are generally more literate and articulate and have an inclination for words. They also have a platform on which to display their linguistic tapestries.

However, it’s not the writers, the thought leaders, the entertainers, the movers and shakers, or the media elites that matter. They are, after all, unwitting purveyors of the hollow ideals that reflect our current mindsets and motivations. 

Let’s return again to politics. “Politics” is, indeed, a dirty word for most Americans today. But the word merely describes the manner in which we govern ourselves.

Few of us would disagree with the unfortunate fact that this nation is extremely divided and that our collective souls are becoming increasingly restless and agitated.

As our culture seemingly continues to crumble and as the political cacophony continues to rise, we keep missing the obvious. While we as a people clamor to have our needs met, our opinions valued, our identities embraced, our desires satiated and our worldviews subsumed, we have overlooked the centerpiece of our existence.

We are here for each other.

At the end of our lives, we must consider what we expect to leave behind. How have we made this a better place? How have we helped other people? How have we alleviated the pain?

Those questions may echo within the lazy writer’s clichés, the presumptive philosopher’s vain suppositions or even the apathetic theologian’s entreaties.

But this life really isn’t about grabbing the gusto. It isn’t about being happy. It isn’t about living it to the full. It isn’t about just doing it. (Those are slogans created by talented marketers looking to generate corporate profits.)

If that is the platform on which we live, our living is ultimately a failing. We fashion our years on the faulty foundation of empty ideology, of vacuous pop psychology, of false promise, of fading dreams.

We must live for each other. We are a community of humanity that must express itself in truth, transparency and personal responsibility.

We may have told our children: It ain’t about you. It’s for each other that we live.

Our heart’s passion must be to animate the lives of others and to release our spiritual legacies for the sake of generations that may follow us.

Until we shift our focus from ourselves, we will continue to watch our communities and our nations disintegrate.

Submission to authority. Honesty. Integrity. Charity. Sacrifice. Service. Why have we allowed those concepts to become soiled? Why do we disparage the principles that have produced our prosperity and that have allowed us to reach historically unprecedented levels of human achievement?

Our ancestors sacrificed to make our lives and livelihoods better. Isn’t it time we do the same? Isn’t it time we fight for what’s right? Isn’t it time we start giving of ourselves? Isn’t time we start walking the walk?