Looking around, I am beginning to fear that we are losing the tradition of giving back to the communities that mold and shape us into whom we become as adults. Apparently, we are slowly but surely forgetting how to live by the basic rules that we learned as children. The American author Robert Fulgham wrote a short book of essays(1986) and one of them is entitled : ‘ All I Need to Know I Learned In Kindergaten’. Among the basic rules he learned were: sharing everything, being kind to one another, cleaning up your own messes and living a ‘balanced life’ of work ,play and learning.
If we all added and lived the proverb: “ Charity begins at home”- helping family and close friends before stepping out to help others, we would lead fulfilled lives.
We have responsibilities and duties where we live,where we work and in the communities we live.
The late Mohammed Ali could not have expressed it in a better way: “ Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
It is probable that we are all now so wrapped up in living in the ‘Survival mode’ that we have pushed everything else on the back burner.
At home, the parents love, nurture, guide and empower the children while preparing them to become part of the big world. As the children grow, they are given more responsibilities in the home like making their beds, washing the dishes and keeping the home clean. As they learn by example to be fair, kind and giving; their character is being built. They grow up wanting to contribute to the development of the communities they live in. I grew up in a home where my parents shared their time, money and even the simplest thing as a cup of tea with someone else. They would then go out in the community to organize the people to do things for themselves. Giving comes really naturally to the children of such parents.
The work place is another community that shapes and molds us. It demands that we actively give back to it other than keep draining from it. Giving back to where you live and work can be widened to include your country and eventually world-wide. It is all about sacrifice –time and resources.
To give properly, first you have to give to yourself, know your limits and own priorities. You have to reserve for yourself the right to say ‘no’ to avoid getting burned out by the role.
Giving back gladly to your community comes out of a heart filled with gratitude and wanting to share the little you have with others. You use your talents, power, image, influence, skills and money to help those in need to help themselves. Generosity is said to be a ‘Double’ currency in that it enriches both the Receiver and the Giver. As the Giver, you are being effective in the Community in which you live and you are contributing to the good of the Community. Your main goal is to leave the Community better than you found it. You do all this without expecting any reward for yourself. The inherent value is that you grow as a human being and make many people happy as they are empowered to help themselves to live better lives. Those whose lives you touch feel that they belong; they are valued and cared for. This in itself will bring out the best in them.
While working in Botswana as a medical doctor, I used to offer my services free to the SOS Children’s Village International once a week and at least twice a year, I would encourage my children to spring clean their wardrobes and shoe racks. Then I would donate those items to the children at the Village. Up to today I still carry the smiles of those boys and girls as they received the items.
For some months, I have been giving away a few refuse bags to my neighbours and teaching them how to sort out garbage in their homes. This small act has made our environment cleaner and each member more responsible. They feel as happy as I do about the change.
I am reminded to count my blessings every day and that there is no perfect time to give back.
Malcom Bane says: “ If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you will end up not doing nothing for nobody.’’
You give back because you care and in today’s world, there is so much need for care.
My favourite author Kahlil Gibran(1883-1931) , the renown Lebanese – American artist, poet and philosopher constantly reminds me that : “ You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.’’
The most valuable thing I can give to anyone is my time.
We should all reach out to meet the needs in our community using what we have in our hands for it is the right thing to do. Let your giving grow steadily with time. Look around for small deeds you can do on a daily basis.
Zig Ziglar, an American Motivational speaker, said: “You can have everything you want in life, if you will just help other people get what they want.’’
May this quote by Buddha stir you into giving back consistently to your community, “ Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
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