An article by Tom Gilbert - copyright © June 13, 2016
In light of the events that have happened over the past few years, most vividly demonstrated by the shootings and killings of 50 people at an Orlando nightclub on June 12, I find it more and more important that we have what I would call life vigilance.
We must consider the importance of recognizing how each day we have is special - perhaps even our last day.
I don't go through life in a constant state of fear about personal safety. And I don't normally think about the end of life.
However, I am finding this year more of an awareness that we are not guaranteed any particular number of days. We get what we get.
So it is best to live one day at a time.
And to be vigilant, to be aware, to be grateful that we have life today.
Let's face it - a lot of us go through our days with a certain sense of entitlement. We take for granted that we have a home, a bed, food and the basic necessities for living.
This is not the reality for everyone.
Many people are dealing with daily struggles. Some are hungry. Some are poor. Some are suffering from illness. Some are alienated from friends and family. Some are refugees.
Some are victims of random and sudden acts of violence.
Because we have no guarantee for our life expectancy, it follows that we should take the opportunity every day to stay connected to others.
How do we treat others?
Don't let a day go by without telling people that they matter to you. Telling your family and friends you love them not only encourages them, it is good for your own wellbeing.
One of the great lessons passed on to me is that life is not about you - you are about life!
It is vitally important to remember that your life matters.
And so does the life of every other person on the planet. Even the ones who are committing criminal acts and taking the lives of others or endangering lives.
That can be hard to accept, but until we understand and appreciate that all life is sacred we will harbor an attitude that some people are more important than others. Certainly some people are doing more with their lives than others, but all lives matter.
That being said, you should have a healthy appreciation for your life.
Your life matters.
With that understanding comes the responsibility to do something with your life. Every day we have an opportunity to do something to make the world we live in a better place.
We can all help by sharing our experience, strength and hope. I believe a key purpose of preserving our life stories is to help others better understand our journeys and to learn from each other.
I am not a fan of sharing stories that are about revenge, or getting even.
On the other hand, I am a raving fan of the stories that connect us to our shared humanity, that show us that love, kindness and compassion are virtues worth preserving.
We need to pass on these life lessons.
Let's do what we can to bring light into the darkness. Love and tolerance of others is a good code to live by.
You don't have to agree with everyone.
You don't have to approve of things that are wrong.
But we do need to accept the reality of our lives and we can do something to bring about change that makes things better.
Connecting our stories to the events that happen in our world helps others recognize that we are in a shared community. I wrote about that in the article, Your Memoir and the Larger World.
Some powerful stories about people who have dealt with gun violence in their lives are included in this episode of PEACE TALKS RADIO. In the aftermath of yet another mass killing by a gunmen, I recommend listening to the program.