"Even in the poorest of circumstances, springs forth the kindest of deeds. We are but a part of all we've met, the mould and creatures of all we've done. The infinity of joy comes from knowing that compassion is at work in one's life in spite of one's circumstances. Though circumstances are beyond human control, our conduct remains within our own power.
The guide to being a good person is to hold a philosophy that holds fast to all occasions. 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 an invitation for us to get up out of bed and brighten someone'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 it wasn't worth owning. 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 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.
It therefore 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 man whom everyone who met him dearly loved and admired. His secret was that he always gave more of himself than was either expected or asked for and always took less than was offered.
In my life I have found that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not 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, 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 that 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 as we walk on by. Once I saw something that was obviously wrong and wondered why someone didn't do something to help; then I realised I am 'somebody.' That great man Mahatma Ghandi told us that '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. It is easier to bestow these gifts on people we know and love than those we dislike and distrust. Therefore, to give to our enemies is the most bountiful generosity of all.
The greatest of all gifts that we can bestow is love, concern and compassion towards all who suffer and 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 closer connection with us.
We must learn to plant trees under whose shade we might never sit as we learn to do for others instead of self 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, if needs be, change ourselves." William Forde: February 11th, 2015.