"Even in the poorest of circumstances, springs forth the kindest of deeds. We are but a part of all we've touched; the mould and creature of all we've shaped and done. The infinity of joy comes from knowing that compassion is at work in one's life in spite of one's unfavourable circumstances. Though circumstances are largely beyond human control, how we respond and conduct ourselves in all situations remains within our own power and responsibility.
The guide to being a good person is to have a philosophy that holds fast to all occasions and makes outcasts of none. Essentially, in order to 'feel good,' we must 'be good' because 'being good' to others is the only insurance policy we will ever need. Every sunrise is an invitation for us to get up out of bed, dress ourselves in positive thoughts and brighten someone else's day.
As a lover of fine art and antiques, I had to learn that if I needed to possess it and could not bear to give it up, then I did not really own it; it owned me! I have had to learn over the years to battle with my selfishness if I wanted my generosity to grow. I had to develop the practice of learning to give away the things I treasured most, in order to increase their value in my life and the lives of others. This required much practise on my part, but became easier once I started to understand that it's the heart that does the giving; the fingers merely let go.
Therefore, it falls to each of us, that upon finding our lives out of balance, to summon up the courage to correct it. If we want to build up a reputation for generosity, we will find that we cannot buy it cheap, and until we give of ourselves, we can never truly give at all. I once knew a woman everyone dearly loved and admired. Her secret was that she always gave more of herself than was either expected or asked for, and always took less than was offered. I called her 'Mum'.
In my life, I have found that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends more upon our disposition than our circumstances. As someone who worked for charitable organizations for over thirty years, I can honestly say that the greatest generosity I have known has always come from the poorest section of society. It seems to be a universal truth that those who possess the least, invariably give the most. It is as though God made the prime function of the poor in life to never stop exercising their generosity. Indeed, I might go so far as to say that to make the poor materially too prosperous would place their lives out of balance and take them farther away from the road to Heaven; for true generosity is too frequently eaten up by prosperity and wealth when greed steps in.
Between the years of 1989 and 2004, I visited and held story-telling assemblies in over two thousand Yorkshire schools. I can tell you that the greatest lesson I ever saw taught by the overwhelming majority of our teachers during this time was when they encouraged their pupils to give to those who were in greater need than themselves. In my eyes, though all other lessons on the educational curriculum were of undoubted value to their pupils' future and character development, none matched the importance of learning to give of oneself; for it is only through the act of freely giving to another that we can become the good people we are meant to be.
The good know that service to others is God's rent for the room we are leased on earth. Too often, it can be more convenient to close our eyes, deafen our ears and shield our hearts to the suffering around us, and to leave it to others to intervene as we 'walk on by'. Once I saw a woman lying with her feet on the sidewalk and her head and shoulders on the busy road. She was shoddily dressed, dirty in appearance and probably drunk, as the empty gin bottle beside her suggested. She was in great danger of getting run over as the cars swerved around her to miss decapitating her in her state of unconsciousness. As she lay there, people walked around her and stepped over her without stopping to see if she was alive or dead; preoccupied or on their mobile phones as they made their way to work. There was something that was obviously wrong and I wondered why someone wasn't something to help; then I realised 'I am 'somebody.'
That great man Mahatma Gandhi told us, 'The best way to find yourself is to use yourself in the service of others.' Goodness is about integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity and moral courage, but more than anything, it is how we treat people. I am sure that at least once in my lifetime, that even a person stoned on alcohol or drugs has had a heart attack in the high street, or has accidentally fallen/been pushed over/had a fainting fit and has lost consciousness.
It is easier to bestow these gifts on people we know and love than those we dislike and distrust. It is easier for us to think better of, and therefore, give help to, someone who is stood on their own two feet than to help anyone lying in the gutter; however they got there!That's what makes being able to give to the people we least respect or our enemies, the most bountiful generosity of all.
The greatest of all gifts that we can bestow is love, concern and compassion towards all who suffer; to those who are down and out, and who come our way. Since we cannot do good to all, we should pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, place or circumstances are brought into contact and closer connection with us.
We must learn to plant trees under whose shade we might never sit, as we learn to do good towards others more often. We should take personal responsibility for our actions, for though we cannot change the moon, stars, seas, tide, wind or seasons, we can change ourselves, and with it, change the world!" William Forde: February 10th, 2018.