“It is more blessed to give than to receive”, says the old book.
Why this random thought? Well, it came to me one evening on a recent charity plastic surgery trip to India, as I sat on our team bus heading back to the hotel after a long day of surgery for children with birth deformities. I was staring out the window, trying to figure out if we were even moving at all through the evening traffic jam that’s become our daily routine when, through the hypnotic orchestra of blasting horns and blaring lights, it sank upon me a gratifying sense of accomplishment and reward that can only be described as priceless. During my brief time there, I had lost tract of which day of the week it was. All I knew was that I had to get up in the morning, have my coffee, and head off with a team of champion volunteers to offer hope to kids who, without corrective surgery for their deformities, would be outcasted from their society. No reward, other than a smile from the child the next day, and a glimmer of hope through a tightly held tear in the parents’ eyes. I count myself privileged to be able to do such work, and am thankful for the opportunity.
We live in a hectic and competitive society, and it is understandably easy to be caught up in our individual races at home, school, work, or wherever we may be in life. The concept of selfless giving becomes increasingly foreign in a society where there is “no such thing as a free lunch”. I entirely agree that one should work for one’s lunch. However, this consensus may not be fairly applied in every respect to places in the world where there exists genuine poverty that continues to be indebted from one generation to the next. In such communities, having food to feed the family remains a constant undetermined factor, and basic health care can only be afforded by a minority. It goes without saying then, that in places like these, help is always welcomed. That is not to say, however, that selfless contribution cannot be applied in OUR world. It certainly can. I suspect what the old book is eluding to relates more to a giving that is unconditional, motivated solely by a desire to see another person, a family, or a society be blessed, whether it be portrayed as a tear of joy, a tide of hope, or a first time smile. It is where the only thing we get in return is the gift of gratefulness, and knowing that we have somehow contributed to the betterment of someone else’s life.