Peter Grace was the grandson of the founder of W. R. Grace and Company. Peter took the helm of the billion-dollar company while still in his thirties and ran the company for 48 years. He was the longest serving CEO of a public company.
When I asked him to tell me his greatest life lesson, he surprised me by saying that as a boy he was tutored by Father James Keller, founder of The Christophers.
“Whenever I came to him to describe some great horror I had heard about or some injustice in the world, Father Keller’s response was always the same,” Peter said. “As I finished describing whatever caused my concern, he would say — ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’”
This is the most persistent question in life. We were born, America was born to respond.
It is no accident the Declaration of Independence begins with these words: We the people. It is a claim of right and responsibility. We have to say something. We have do something.
And we have the power.
Consider the possibilities of our lives: The average life span in America today is 78.74 years. In seventy-eight years there are about 28,740 days. If we reach out to just two people a day, each of us could touch more than 57,480 lives – that’s 57,480 lives we can improve with a kind word, 57,480 lives we can brighten with something as simple as a smile, 57,480 lives we can change with some small gift of ourselves. And each of the lives we touch can reach out and touch a similar number – 57,480 times 57,480 – in a geometric progression without end.
This is how the world is changed. Your smile, your smallest kindness affects the universe.
God clearly doesn’t not intend for us all to be celebrated, popular, or famous, but we are all born rich. We are abundant in our opportunities to act on behalf of each other.
Every moment provides a chance. Every situation presents a challenge. Every problem is an opportunity.
At every moment, we have a choice:
Do we want to add more love to the world or less?
Do we want add more honesty to the world or less?
Do we want to add more forgiveness to the world or less?
Do we want to add more gratitude to the world or less?
Do we want to add more justice to the world or less?
Do we want to be part of the community of hope or give in to fear and despair?
We shape the world by our response. America is and always will be what we are.