A Question to Remember
We are living in an age when it goes against the ‘norm’ to think more about others more than ourselves. How do we change that? How to we challenge the norm? How do we live our lives in such a way that we effect positive change in the world?
I believe it starts with deciding to live a life of generosity.
For some it happens naturally, for others it’s a conscious decision – either way, the most gratifying way to live life is to do it with others’ well being at the center of our thoughts and actions.
A few weeks ago I was in class and got a text from an old friend of mine, and all it said was “How can we change the world today, Jules?” – with no explanation, no prompting or prior conversation. That text changed my day. Not only did it inspire me but also it shifted my perspective from normal day-to-day tasks to actually thinking, what am I doing to change the world today? How can I make a difference in the lives of others?
Sometimes, shifting gears is as simple as that – as simple as making every day about what can I do to help someone else? I don’t know about you, but I’m not okay just sitting back and letting the injustices of this world continue. Global poverty can end in our lifetime. All children could have access to primary education in our time. The number of child deaths from preventable diseases could be just a fraction of what it is now, in our lifetime.
How do these big changes happen? By shifting our perspective and starting with ourselves. When perspectives shift, lives shift in a positive direction. I heard it said once “Sometimes ending world poverty feels like emptying the ocean with an eye dripper, and just when you get close to seeing water levels go down it rains.” This can be true, but that’s why there is so much power in students from across Canada stepping up together to make a change. YOU are a part of a movement: your movement involves some 75,000 youth and students across the country.
Living a lifestyle of generosity is all consuming. It’s a powerful thing when life’s mundane every day tasks shift with that perspective. “How can we change the world today?” can be a question you ask yourself in the morning when you get up, on the bus on your way to class, or even at work. When our thoughts shift away from ourselves our lives begin changing for the better.
So, where do we start? Why not shop ethically, host an information session on global poverty, mobilize your friends by creating your own campaign, and use what you love to make a difference in the world. The options are really endless, it just takes making a decision to be different, go against the ‘norm’, and live out a lifestyle of generosity.
The Joy of Giving
We as humans are at our best when we commit our lives to a lifestyle of giving and generosity. No one makes it on their own in this life, but it is through mutual giving and receiving that we are able to flourish. I think that much of the injustices of our world can be eliminated if people centered their lives on giving rather than taking.
As a young child, I was taught by my family and community that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Knowing this, I found my self-centered nature being consistently skeptical of giving, and often caught up in the thought that if I consume more, I will find more happiness. However, as I reflect on my life, the happiest and most meaningful moments in my life have been those instances when I gave without the motive of receiving anything back, and when I humbly received from others with a grateful heart. In the book The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson have uncovered the following: “Generosity is paradoxical. Those who give, receive back in turn. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. In letting go of some of what we own, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact. . . . [In] failing to care for others, we do not properly take care of ourselves.”
For most of us, we are tempted to think that, in order to give, our gifts have to be flashy, elaborate, and expensive. But, what is more important than what you give, is why you give. Mother Theresa, a champion of selfless giving, said the following, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” We have all been given time, a certain amount of resources, talents that we can use to give to others.
One of the most valuable gifts you can give to others is time, where you give that person your undivided attention. This is a gift that is all too often neglected in our busy world, but that so many people long to receive and experience. The simple acts of being with, gently listening, speaking words of affirmation and encouragement, and offering a hug have the power to change and heal a person’s life.
In terms of resources that we have, whether it may be money or stuff, I have found that the best way to enjoy them was to actually share it with others and have people partake in what you have. That’s why my campus community group has decided in response to all that we have been blessed with; share some of our resources with a family in a developing community through the World Vision Gift Catalogue.
All of us have talents, and I think the best way to make a good difference in the world is to pursue excellence in our talents with the ultimate aim to seek the well-being of humanity. Since I like to converse, think of ideas, and mobilize people for action, I am seeking to study the best I can in pursuing my Masters of International Development, and work passionately as a Youth & Student Provincial Leader with World Vision Youth Canada.
How would our world look like if we were more obsessed with giving than getting? Christmas is just around the corner, and I believe this is a great time to not just give material gifts, but other types of gifts as well. Consider the following gift ideas suggested by Oren Arnold: “To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a customer, service. To a friend, loyalty. To your parents, gratitude and devotion. To your mate, love and faithfulness.To every child, a good example. To all, charity.”
One of the main pillars of any justice movements is the devotion to giving. When a group of people wholly give themselves over to speak for the voiceless, serve the destitute, and stand up against injustice the world, change is inevitable. It is my hope that World Vision Youth Canada will be movement filled with people committed to a lifestyle of giving. Giving begets giving, therefore, let the passion for giving begin within us first and spread like wildfire within the communities that we are part of.
Check out the World Vision Gift Catalogue, Click Below.