A stranger came to me today in a parking lot and asked for help.
- I did not fear him.
- I did not judge him.
- I chose to give to him freely.
The world is only as treacherous or as sad as we choose to make it. Just as we can make our own lives more difficult through poor decisions and more bountiful with wise decisions, we have the same power to do this for others. However, sometimes we tell ourselves stories to justify not helping those in need. It’s important to remember that those stories are the creation of our imagination. They are not based on fact. They are a fiction.
I think we forget how much power and influence we really have to help other people in our daily lives. In many ways we become hoarders of our time and money in the hope of ensuring we will have a safe and comfortable life. We forget that with very little we can drastically alter the lives of others. We can share what we have and help those in need whose experiences were less fortunate than our own. Those gifts can immeasurably change someone’s life.
Give help, not lectures.
Try and leave judgments of any kind behind. It really doesn’t matter how well you can debate or justify your beliefs. In the end, you can’t change the mind of a person who doesn’t desire change.
The perfect examples are in the forbidden topics of politics and religion at the dinner table. No matter how persuasive you are, you can’t change someone’s beliefs with a single conversation. If he doesn’t have an open mind, you can’t open it for him. It is better to be silent. Hold your tongue, and offer generosity and kinship despite your differing beliefs. This gives you a chance to find common ground and slowly open both your minds to finding a middle path.
Remember, people remain largely unchanged until they are willing to question their beliefs. Harbor them no resentment. We are all products of our upbringing. We’re taught to believe and behave in different ways. Treat everyone with kindness and better than they have treated you.
Rules to Remember when Giving
- Don’t give to feel better about yourself. You can’t purchase a lasting feeling of accomplishment.
- Don’t give in the hope of recognition. You can’t buy admiration, but you may inspire it.
- Give to relieve suffering. That is enough.
It’s not our responsibility to determine who deserves help. Generosity is a gift. It’s given to those in need, and the greatest acts of kindness are given in unexpected and compassionate ways.
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” —Matthew 5:42