The Joy of Giving week is being celebrated across India from October 2 to October 8, 2016. The TV channels are flooded with celebrities appealing for participation by giving to the needy.
My initial reaction was that of skepticism. But upon thinking a little more on the concept, I thought it was indeed a very relevant and necessary exercise. I learn from the press reports that the results of this exercise has been fantastic and far more that initially expected!
But why has “giving” become more relevant today that we are having to run ad campaigns?
In today’s information age, while the globe has shrunk and transformed into global village but a malaise that today that is truly global is “selfishness”.
Selfishness emanates from the greed of the individual to community, to a nation and to the entire humanity. It is selfishness of the individual to amass material wealth and riches for himself, for his kin, a community to do well only for themselves, a nation trying to grab everything possible only for themselves.
In order to root out this evil, thoughts of being unselfish and deeds of selflessness by “giving” can become a tool for change. A tool that can help in bringing a semblance of sanity in today’s strife-torn world. So “giving” is more important and relevant today than ever before.
As Indians, we have witnessed the yeoman services rendered by the likes of Mother Theresa and Baba Amte. Did we care to wonder Why? Why did Mother Teresa comfort a dying child? Why did Baba Amte nurse the bleeding palm of a leper?
It is because they believed that it is better to wipe a tear than shed a thousand. They realized that it is action and not words that count.
We too can learn from them and experience the joy of giving. To do so, we need not be as heroic. There is no need to travel to some distant land or search out for the less fortunate. All we need is to awaken and become aware of those around us.
One day, in the year 1990, while I was living in the beautiful city of Visakhapatnam, I read a news item in a local newspaper that in Bojjanakonda village, women had to walk almost 2 kilometers to fetch drinking water. As the President of a Rotary Club, I felt I should do something to mitigate the suffering of these hapless women. I could get the "buy in" and unanimous consent of all my members. We garnered the resources available. I registered the Project under the World Community Services Project of the Rotary Foundation. Soon, Rotary Club of Chatfield, Minnesota, USA, came forward with a grant. The Rotary Foundation came forward with a matching grant! Soon, we were able to complete a full-fledged drinking water Project.
Villagers danced in glee at the sight of pure drinking water in their village. Some had tears in their eyes. The village headman was so grateful and wanted to touch my feet in gratitude.
Friends, I was glad I could make a difference in the lives of over 300 inhabitants of that village. The deep sense of satisfaction and pride will remain with me all my life.
So my dear friends, giving always need not be in kind or money.
It can be giving something that a person is yearning for - it could be love, it could be recognition, it could be appreciation, it could be acceptance. There is joy in all of it!!
The great joy of giving of Baba Amte justifies the same, I quote, “I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see, I sought my God, but God eluded me; And then I sought my sisters and brothers, and in them I found all three”
But my dear friends, the death of great people like Baba Amte remind us of our own mortality. It is almost whispering, “the time to give is now”.
Do not hesitate to give that helping hand to a person who is in need. A man in need finds a great reassurance when he knows someone cares and someone might help.
Mark Aurelius wrote in the second century, “Live not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours”.
Enjoy the joy of giving, while and life and power are still yours – tomorrow may be too late…