My wife is infinitely more charitable than I am. That’s one of the things I love about her. She puts others before her and is aware of the needs of those around her. I, on the other hand, see things more selfishly.
There is a something inside of me that looks for the advantage. I look at things with the perspective of what I can get from it. This isn’t always the case. One of the things I enjoy about teaching is that it is always about the student, until I want recognition for what a great teacher I am.
This is a belief system that is deeply ingrained in me. My guess is that it wasn’t one event that caused it but a bunch of tiny events that got me to react this way. Unfortunately most belief systems aren’t turned overnight but take a lifetime of work or a big event.
That big event may or may not have happened to me this last weekend. Before I get into the event I want to mention Buddhism. I’ve been listening to a podcast called Secular Buddhism which is well worth it.
One of the founding principles of Buddhism is interdependence. The idea that we are all connected and that what we accomplish isn’t ours alone to claim, but is a result of a lot of people and a lot of work.
Here’s the example that I heard. A hammer is responsible for building a house. But the hammer isn’t just a hammer.
The metal used in the hammer was forged in a factory.
Before that the mental was processed through a refinery.
Before that it had to be mined.
The wood went through a similar process before the whole thing was put together the hammer that was used to build a house.
It takes a lot of work and people to build a hammer.
And that’s just one tool that was used to build the house. The house and the builder are all dependent on the tools, which are dependent on the toolmakers.
Thus the interdependence. We are all connected.
This has stuck with me because I have felt at times isolated from family, friends, and the world. But in reality the connection has always been there and will always be there.
My actions will always effect those around me. The actions of others will always effect me. If that’s the case, my actions might as well be helpful.
My belief system of looking out for number one is founded on a scarcity mindset. That there isn’t enough to go around. That there is only one pie, and if I don’t fight to claim my piece I’ll never get it.
When I step outside of that belief system scarcity has never been the reality. Even when I lost my job and had to pivot careers there was plenty. I would even dare say it was beneficial to have lost my job.
Despite there always being enough my belief system continues to blind me. Until that belief system changes.
On to the life changing event.
We were in St. George buying clothes for our kids. While we were off to the side and out of the way looking at what we were going to buy a lady walked up to me and handed me $20. She said, “You guys look like a great family and I want to help in anyway I can.”
After telling her that she didn’t need to do that she told us her story.
She is a widow who recently came into some money. Her and her husband had 7 kids and they couldn’t always afford what they wanted to. Now that she is on this end of life she looks for opportunities to help.
Even retelling this story I get a little choked up.
I would never consider myself in need. We budgeted the money to pay for clothes we bought. It’s not about the money. It’s about the recognition of the connection we have.
No matter what my circumstances are I am connected to everyone around me. For the most part I will never ask for help, because I rarely need it. But if it’s offered I will likely accept it because help makes things move smoother, faster, and is more enjoyable.
Charity is recognizing that I am part of a bigger whole and a great reminder that I am connected to you. Why shouldn’t I help others get what they want?
The catch 22 is that I logically understand this but my actions don’t always reflect it. For those of you I didn’t help but could have, I apologize. I hope to recognize the need and take action next time.
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