We all have responsibilities. For me it is going to work, paying my bills, taking care of my family and my patients. It is making sure the lawn is mowed, the outside of the house is in order, the cars run well. And so much more.
For you kids it might be cleaning your rooms, setting the table, taking out the trash, feeding the dog. It is also making sure you do the best you can in school, which means paying attention in class, doing your homework, and studying.
For all of us, responsibility means being the best people we can be. This means treating others as we would want to be treated. It means reacting and responding to others kindly. And it means exercising our potential to the best of our abilities. Doing these things builds our character, meaning it sets us on the road to determining the kind of person we want to be.
This may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. So let’s take this one thing at a time.
Treating others the way you would want to be treated simply makes sense. You would not want mean things said about you. You would not want to be made fun of. You would not want to be bullied. Right? Neither would anyone else. Understanding this – and making it part of who you are – will go a long way towards making your interactions with others, both adults and kids, more enjoyable, more productive, and more fulfilling.
When we treat others as we would want to be treated, we cannot help but be kind. After all, we all want to be treated with kindness, right?
Now here’s the more challenging one: exercising our potential to the best of our ability. What does this mean.
Each of us is born with potential – the ability to be or to do something in the future. As babies, most of us have the potential to learn to crawl and then to walk and then to run. Most of us have the potential to learn to read, to learn to add and subtract. We may have the potential to become great musicians, great singers, doctors, teachers, builders, designers. We may have the potential to create games, to be a veterinarian, to be an Olympic skier or runner. But how do we get there? We get there by learning, by working, by consistently putting in effort. And that is how we exercise our potential. Nothing good comes to us without doing so.
As a young person, you should not have to worry about where you live, about where your next meal will come from. You should not have to be concerned with bills or a job. This is the time in your life to concentrate on the things that will pave the way to a wonderful future, and a big part of that is the education that will enhance your ability to exercise your potential.
So the next time your friends make fun of someone, think twice before joining in. The next time you meet someone new, greet them with kindness. And in between, even when you don’t feel like doing your homework, think about all that potential inside of you just waiting to be used and how much a great education will do to ensure that it happens.
And in between, have fun. Play, read, exercise, and make the most of just being a kid.