Saturday, February 19, 2011

41,000 Hours of Your Life

What would you do with over 4.5 years of your life? That's about 57 months or 1,700 days, or 41,000 hours. In that time you could earn your bachelor’s degree with time to spare, or two master's degrees. You could conceive and deliver up to 5 new lives, or you could have created something called Facebook and grown it into a multi-billion dollar company reaching over 150 million people. You could create unknown amounts of art, poetry, or other creations. The options seem limitless. Hell, how many governments have been overthrown in that time?

For the past 1,700 days Gilad Shalit hasn’t had any of these opportunities. He has sat in an unknown prison with no medical aid and no contact from the outside world. Not even the International Red Cross/Crescent has been allowed to see him and he’s been afforded no rights that should be granted under the Geneva Convention. Why? Because he's an Israeli Jew. I’ve written before about this topic in 2008 and again in 2009 and laid out plenty of information I won’t regurgitate here, but unfortunately, this situation still hasn’t been resolved. There is plenty of blame to pass around for this, not the least of which goes to his Arab captors, but I want to go beyond that.

Besides trying to gain his freedom and working towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, I believe we owe Gilad Shalit a little more. Each and every one of us, regardless of political persuasion, religious/ethnic background or country of origin owe him this: to live each and every day to its fullest. We often take for granted the freedoms we have and focus on what we don’t have. We turn to procrastination and apathy because it’s the easier option. Today, on the 1,700th day of Gilad’s illegal, immoral and unjust imprisonment, take a moment to think about what you’ve accomplished over the last 1,700 days and about what your life would be like if you hadn’t had the opportunity to do them. Think next of what you want to accomplish over the next 1,700 days as well. What have you been meaning to do, but put off? What good deed do you keep meaning to do, but somehow it always gets put off until later, and later never comes? Have you been meaning to volunteer at a homeless shelter? Then do it. Have you been meaning to call you mother more (because you know, she does worry), take the initiative and do it starting now. Did you want to start painting the kitchen because you know your significant other has wanted it? Time to go to the paint store.

We hear the overused and watered-down phrase “freedom isn’t free.” Well, whether it is or isn’t, you have it, now start making use of it. Leave the world a better place than you received it and start now, before now becomes then and then becomes too late.

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” ~Oscar Wilde


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