Recently I heard about the death of a person I had known since some time. Describing his life’s achievements, someone wrote to me: “John will be missed by us all. He was a man who loved life. He shared his passion with others by his life's work, dreams and visions.... He is a man who did leave the world a better place because he made a difference”. The force of this last sentence struck me powerfully. It sounded like an epitaph that anyone would dream of having on his tombstone! It is the best legacy that describes the life and work of the person and something that will stay for a long time to come!
Each person is born into this world with a task – to make a difference and consequently to leave the world a better place for others who come after them. Some great people, like Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Swami Vivekananda, and scores of others in various fields and disciplines spent their lives making positive difference to the world and left it a better place. They influenced others so much that generations of people remember them as their heroes. Were it not for their contributions, the world would not be what it is today.
There are others, like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Idi Amin and Pinochet and scores of others who also influenced the world, but left it worse. They, through their repressive, oppressive and negative influence, became agents of death and destruction. Such people live in the pages of history as those who butchered humanity and its culture.
There are yet others – billions of them – who make a difference to the world they live in, not through social revolutions and heroic deeds, but by silently carrying out their daily duties with devotion and dedication. They are fathers who toil whole day to earn livelihood for their family, mothers who nurse and care for their children and teach them good lessons of life, children who work hard to succeed in a competitive world and try their best to use their talents, teachers who impart knowledge and values to the students, people who work in fields, offices, workshops, machineries, construction sites, to name a few. Each of them, by doing their jobs as best as they can, and by caring for their own families first, and by involving in some community service, by helping others in their needs, by visiting a lonely or sick or imprisoned person, make a difference in their own ways and leave the world a better place.
In what way do I make a difference today to the lives of others and to the world I live in? What influence does my life have on others? What will others say of me when I leave this world? Do I leave the world a better place?