Recently picked up a copy of “Have a little faith” by Mitch Albom, and was profoundly moved by the thoughts and stories those two holy men shared. They didn’t share scriptures, or biblical verses. They shared their stories on the trials and tribulations of their lives, and the wisdom they took from it, forging the attitude they have/had today. The book was so thought provoking, it led me to think about my life and the things I’ve gone through leading to the man I am today. These are my reflections.
First, I considered the life I’ve led. I’ve been extremely lucky to have the freedom to travel as much as I could from whence I was born. As such, I’ve seen so many social and environmental situations around the world. It shaped my perspective in a very positive way, although it made me feel pretentiously worldly. I’m certainly no world citizen as Mitch Albom is, but I am grateful for having this freedom to explore and capitalize on most of the opportunities thrown my way from a young age.
Having said that, I’ve always tried my best living life to the fullest. Constantly thinking about death, how life would go on without me, what will be the last thoughts in my head as I meet the reaper, things like that. Every time I pose a question to myself, I answer it without hesitance, “there will be no regrets, I’ve lived life to the fullest what more can there be?”. I realize now how wrong I’ve been. I’ll always regret not taking the time to give back to society even in a small rather insignificant way, or helping and caring for someone I didn’t know at all, a perfect stranger.
Some of you might be wondering what my religious leanings are. I’m an Agnostic, which means I have none. I don’t deny spiritualism but neither am I completely compelled to accept one congregation over another. I wasn’t always that way, I used to be a Christian growing up. As a person, I’ve always been quite morally altruistic, and since I didn’t feel the need for a religion to reaffirm my morals and principles, I lacked the need for one.
After reading Mitch Albom’s book, I realised that religion is more than just a guide for wayward individuals. It is a deeply rooted community, that shares their pain, and finds solace in each others comfort. One should certainly be proud and not ashamed of their congregation, regardless of which God they believe in, or for that matter, don’t believe in. Especially if their congregation builds and binds communities, eases the burdens of others, sometimes even the pain less fortunate individuals face daily, without judgement or reprieve.
To share, help, welcome, without pushing personal beliefs, isn’t that what humanity is about? As the late Reb once imagined God to say “Reward? What reward? It’s what you should be doing in the first place!”.
It seems like a lifetime ago when I was part of a large Outward Bounder’s club, where apart from the trekking and adventuring, we’d take the time to help the elderly or kids suffering from downs, or some other charity. Since leaving, I’m ashamed to say I’ve not partaken in any such activity.
I’ll naturally confer to the usual excuses: life, work, personal problems, etc – the list goes on. Is that really acceptable, particularly in today’s standards of modern living? Where it takes less than 24 hours to travel around the world, a minute to cook a meal, a second to access the greatest library in the world?
Isn’t it time I, you, we, stop with the excuses and do something that would really enrich our lives? I don’t mean just once, but on a fairly regular basis. After all, what’s really more enriching then helping a complete stranger without expecting gratitude in return. Serve food at a homeless shelter, sign up for a collection drive, these days there are several avenues to help, just pick one. Lend a hand in the community you live in, and it’ll find a way to help you in return eventually. Like the Reb said, “you get what you give”.