“A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure I have received, and am still receiving.” This was a thoughtful observation made by Albert Einstein.
In a lovely way, he commented on the humbling truth that we are all impacted by other folks. The education, energy, and skills of others help us in countless ways – from medical care to farmers and ranchers providing food to truckers who deliver the goods….to every person whose work makes the machinery of life run. We rely on community leaders, law enforcement officers, and medical personnel. On vendors, production workers, and secretaries.
Quietly, a network of people helping people keeps society running – whether they realize it or not. It’s healthy for our gratitude quotient to recognize all the ways that ideas, production, and efforts that allow us to enjoy life to a greater degree.
Looking back, we recognize the efforts, energy, and sacrifice of many who worked for our betterment today. From pioneers who traversed oceans, to pioneers who crossed the plains, to family members now long deceased who have offered their part – in whatever way – for a foundation upon which we continue to build. The people we read about, and love, in the Book of Mormon knew their labors were for us, in this day. Long before we began our mortal experience, they were working to ensure that we would have access to necessary, life-saving truths.
When I look through my mother’s family history book, I’m amazed at the people whose character seems to come alive. That feeling of indebtedness, in a powerful way, grows for their good example, and the paths they forged. I get a kick out of the bones in the closet, so to speak, as well. You know, the less-than-stellar characters who complete the branches of the tree.
Overall, looking back helps me look around presently. So many are doing their job to keep the whole of society moving along. It makes my life easier.
This same kind of work is done by Church members. Our wards and stakes – the members worldwide- are blessed by the individual contributions offered by teachers, auxiliary leaders, visiting and home teaching companions, missionaries, and leaders in all capacities.
President Dieter Uchtdorf once joyfully taught, “”How I admire men, women, and children who know how to work! How the Lord loves the laborer!” [“Two Principles for Any Economy,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 55.] Throughout history, beginning with Adam and Eve, the principle of work has been taught. Every little job done is good.
Thinking on Albert Einstein’s remark, it’s humbling to realize how much I owe so many people. I’ll never be able to repay all that has been done – and is being done- to help me. But I can exert myself as much as I can in order to do my part.
I have written and taught for many years. I’ve done it because it was a work given me to do. Something I love. A way I felt I could make a difference for good. I sometimes say things wrong, or leave thoughts out. I sometimes work when I’m pushing my body past the boundaries- perhaps- of physical wisdom. I often write when I don’t physically feel like it, or my body is so weak and tired that it’s not up to par.
You don’t know that. And it doesn’t really matter. The reason I make the point is because I don’t know how the other person’ is feeling, either….hardly ever. When I am tempted to make a harsh judgment or roll my eyes [so to speak] about someone, I would do well to always – always- remember that we each have weakness and we all deal with hard things.
And that reminds me of the scripture that we should “be not weary in well doing” [Galatians 6:9] because we never know whose heart we may touch, or whose day we may make better. Or even whose life we may help in generations to come, as we do our little portion of work. Even if we receive no thanks for our efforts, or if we only receive criticism for it.
Although gratitude feels good to receive, that’s not the reason we’re engaged in the work, is it?
So today I am making a renewed commitment to thank all the folks who work at doing their part – in the church, in the community, in any form. For the blessing they are in my life. I need to keep in mind Einstein’s keen observation so as to better show my gratitude. I have received so much good!