Who Cares What I Think?


“If you can’t feed 100 people, just feed one.”~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta


“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~Muhammad Ali

Well, summer is over and it seems that we’ll likely make it out alive despite how suffocated we’ve all been by this damned recession. In hard times like these, people not only tighten up their purse-strings, they also tend to tighten up their minds and hearts. It happens out of fear and embarrassment–it’s not easy to decline invitation after invitation with grace when you are trying to conceal the fact that you simply can’t afford to go out and how can you really keep an open mind when you are deep down in an economic hole? Nobody wants to let on just how dire their circumstances might be, and everyone tries to save face as best they can to avoid seeming like a failure, and when squeezed by debt, rarely does the mind turn toward thoughts of giving.

We all should know by now that excessive worry won’t pay the bills and only whittles away at your precious energy, making the debtors’ trench you have to climb out of that much more daunting and depressing. And there’s only so much work you can do in one day, so if you’ve done it you should be able to unplug and give yourself some credit (which seems ridiculous when all you can think of is what you owe). It’s difficult to argue that humans weren’t meant to live like this–stressed and taxed as we are, putting on our little suits and fancy shoes to scurry around a cubicle, when, well, it is our sad reality that this rat race is what our ancestors left as our legacy and subsequent generations have built upon that we now find ourselves mired into with little hope of escape. How can a person feel good at all when, despite incessant work, lack of funds has you feeling like a slave and your instincts are calling for nothing but self-preservation?

When you find yourself sans pot to piss in, you are essentially left with only the rudimentary tools that we are all born with: two hands, two feet, one mind, five senses and time…buckets and buckets of time since your ass can’t afford to go anywhere. To take your mind off those troubles and free yourself from your own sorry state, why not tune into someone else in grand humanitarian style? Surely, there is someone or an entire group of people who are worse off than you.

When you can’t fill up your bank account, fill up your faith account with kindness and an attitude of service to others instead. You pay your rent to your landlord every month, but do you pay your rent for the room you take up here on earth? Muhammad Ali has the right idea about the true nature of debt and too many of us, myself included, get so caught up pledging allegiance to King Cash that we forget about the most stable currency of all, human kindness. I think we’ve all gotten so arrogant hiding behind our cars, our homes, our jobs, our clothes and our incomes and are only being reminded now because of this economy that all of that wealth and prosperity can be stripped away in an instant, leaving us naked in our debt with nothing to show for all that hard work.

The fastest and most inexpensive way to feel good is to make someone else feel good. Most people think ‘well, I can only do a little‘ and end up doing nothing. Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Doing just one small thing puts some good out into the world and ensures that some good will come back around to you. Strip away money and all it stands for and we are all just people with nothing but a self to spend, so why not capitalize in kindness?  Share your lunch with someone you know who has little means. Donate some time to a shelter or a group like Habitat for Humanity. Help your elderly neighbor get her garbage out to the curb, or help an injured friend clean up their home or their yard.

We don’t have to be living prosperously to make a difference; before this financial hardship, you were doing alright, I’ll bet, and how much did you give then, of yourself or of your money? Probably nothing, right? So don’t waste anymore of your time worrying about your wealth or lackthereof. All that will come back around. I believe in that old proverb that states “if you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart” and I’ve learned the lesson that it is only in giving through which we truly receive. If you’re not giving something, then no matter how much money you have, you’ll always be poor in the things that really matter, but who cares what I think?

(As previously published in the South Florida Chronicle, August 26, 2010)

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