Helping others

Someone recently brought up the following subject: should we keep our social efforts silent, or communicate them around? You might not be comfortable with the latter, because we’ve always been taught how to help in silence, and also because you’re at risk of being pointed out by jealous people as bragging, but if it comes from the heart, you’ll let the shameful non acting people cry out their shame in anger.

And for those who think nobody can really help at the individual level, here is a little story for you:

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

I’m not saying you should go join a humanitarian association and go live in a tent in another country to help the poor. Just bend down and pick up a starfish on your way and throw it into the sea. Without even changing your life, here are a few ideas you can do today, to help one starfish or more:

  • donate your used (but still in good condition) clothes to local associations, they are generally easy to find,
  • donate things you don’t use, you’ll also help the planet being more sustainable,
  • donate your body to science upon your death,
  • help that old person open the door or walk across the street,
  • help one child or one community in a third world country, it doesn’t take much money to be of help (one 100th of what you earn might be a full salary in other countries). There are numerous associations which get more and more transparent, so feel free to donate to them, you’ll make a tremendous change for a child, his family and/or his whole community.

And most of all, don’t expect anything in return else than you inner joy of doing good. Also check out this beautiful video:

That is life.


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