Do unto others…

I just had a moment. The lifts in our building are pretty temperamental, and sure enough, just as my brother wanted to help me take 5 really big mirrors down to the car, the lift decided to stay put on fourth floor. Pausing with the last of the five mirrors on the first floor landing, a man and a lady struggled to get a trolley filled with tools down the stairs. The man climbed down backwards, carrying the weight in front, with the lady holding onto the railing for dear life to not be pulled over by the downward force. My brother came up the stairs, saw the struggle and took over from the woman. I couldn’t help the water in my eyes at his gesture. There was only half a flight left, but the gratitude on the lady’s face was clear.

Why did this move me to tears? I can’t explain. I mean, if he didn’t do it, I would’ve probably been upset with him. Our Afrikaans culture expects of a young white boy to be galant and helpful in situations like those. Even when it is a person from a different colour or culture?

Moving past today…I’ve been feeling a need to make a difference for some time now. My excuses for not doing anything yet? Shortage of money, too little time, lack of opportunities… won’t we always have excuses? Monday is Madiba’s birthday. The initiative is to encourage each and every individual to spend 67 minutes on 18 July to do something good. This is to honor the 67 years that Mandela gave to change in South Africa. The calculations are that if 49 million people spend 67 minutes of good, we will achieve:

3 283 000 000 minutes = 54 716 666.67 hours = 2279861.11 days = 6246 years of GOOD!

And that simply by everyone giving one hour, doing something, anything, towards a good cause.  (Visit www.mandeladay.co.za for ideas and more information).

Another thought that crept up on me the other day: it was a cold day, and a cold weekend predicted. “The only thing you can do in this weather is stay inside and stay warm,” someone commented. What about the people who don’t have something to stay in, or whose dwellings are in such a state that the cold creeps through every crack and broken window? What about those without blankets, heaters, electricity? A cold day is horrible, but a cold dark day is worse. We layer the blankets, put the electric blanket on, boil the kettle for coffee, warm soup in the microwave, or bake pancakes on the stove. We snuggle under blankets, watching TV with the gas heater going.

I don’t mean to make you feel guilty – I do all this as well. But what if… what if cold weather wasn’t perfect to stay in, but was perfect to go out? Not out to the movies, or friends with under-floor heating and a fireplace. Perfect to go out and help other keep warm. For some it is not about keeping warm, it is about surviving.

I’ve written a lot – way more than the suggested length of a good blog. I don’t know who of you will read all the way, and if it will touch you. I will share my plan of action with you. I hope you find it in your heart to start making a difference – not only on Monday, but every day. One hour can make a lifetime’s difference.

– Join www.forgood.co.za: it is a South African social networking based website where you can create/join groups, create/join activities and even earn points toward a gift which you can donate to a charity of your choice.

– Clothes: my cupboard is way too full, and I am much too sentimental about earthly things. So if I haven’t worn something in a while (you decide whether it’s a month or a year), I donate it. No matter the size, colour or state of the garment – to someone it might be another layer of protection.

– Involve others: It’s so much more fun doing things you care about with people you care about. Which is why I’m inviting everyone to the Harvest Aid Charity Breakfast on 23 July 2011 with me (http://www.forgood.co.za/Create/Pages/ActivityInfo.aspx?activityid=271) It is a free breakfast, simply to explain their cause and the opportunities for you to become involved.

– What you can: You don’t need to work at a shelter for abused children if you know you are not emotionally ready. You don’t need to help the SPCA bath dogs if you have no love for dogs. Use sites such as ForGood to find activities you have an interest in. Firstly, if it is something you find difficult or don’t like, you won’t be motivated to keep it up – you are under no obligation to make a difference, you need to act on your personal need to do so. Secondly, doing something you love will not only help those you are giving yourself to, but also contribute to your quality of life.

So, help someone carry something heavy, or throw out some of those old clothes.. Even if you do nothing at all, be grateful for what you have, and spare a prayer for those less fortunate. As Ghandi said – be the change you want to see in the world.

 

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