During this season, as we celebrate Christmas, we are inundated with requests for charity.
When I think of charity I have some rather deeply personal views on this topic. I am challenged by what charity means to me and what I do or don’t do about it. We all have our own motivations for being charitable. These may range from religious or spiritual beliefs held dear and close to heart, a general sense of benevolence, or a desire to make a difference in this world.
Charitable actions come in many different shapes, forms and varieties. To some charity is generous financial contributions to organizations undertaking charitable work. Others contribute to the community by preparing nutritious meals for those facing hunger when they, themselves, are living with limited means. It could be the gift of time teaching a class for students in need of additional tuition. Then there is the senior citizen I know who sits all year knitting wool beanies, despite her arthritis, for orphans in need of winter woollies.
I am humbled by the many examples of charity around me that I encounter on a daily basis. I am blessed and inspired by people in my life who, I believe, are the epitome of what it means to be charitable. You don’t talk charity, you live it daily in your lives. You seek nothing in return. You do not look for your name on a plaque placed prominently on [insert any donated object here]. You do not go about selective charitable donations to get a tax refund. Charity is not a once off event on your calendar. When you feed a hungry family you do so without fuss and bother, without alerting the media to your efforts. Day in and day out, 365 days a year, you are tirelessly and selflessly giving of yourselves to others.
Personally, I understand charity to being committed to the continuous giving of oneself, in a meaningful way, to aid and assist others without expecting anything in return.
Okay, great, so I have developed my own understanding. But having such a noble and lofty understanding is worthless without my own, personal, call to action. Words without action are a waste of breath. Until I get up, out of my comfort zone, and actively do something about my personal call to action I am wasting my time writing this article, not to mention wasting your time reading this.
So, I ponder more on this topic, and think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. It all starts with me. If I don’t want to see hunger in the world, for example, why am I not making an extra sandwich, when preparing my daily lunch, for the hungry person I pass on my way to work each morning? Small example, but food for thought [no pun intended].
As I write this I am reminded of the article I wrote – Just for Today. As I continuously seek to be a lifelong learner I need to challenge how I choose to live my life in order to grow and move forward as an individual. So I challenge my status quo. I have now added charity to my “Just for today” daily motivational. As I step out into this unchartered territory I do not yet quite know how this is going to play out. I know this, without taking the first step I’m never going to get anywhere, never move forward, never make a difference, and most certainly will never contribute to the change I wish to see in the world.
I dedicate this article to all the wonderfully inspirational people in my life who, without knowing it, challenge me to my core on this rather personal, and for some, sensitive topic.
Yours in lifelong learning,