Day 355 Question 355:
Can we, as a society, become less selfish and understand that the needs of others are far greater than our own?
In only 10 short days I will have completed this journey I set forth for myself. When I first started this blog project I was almost sure that I would end up abandoning it at some point because I would lose creative focus. There were weekend days or days that I was just insanely busy that I took short cuts but I never gave up. This blog has saved me and introduced me to the me that I did not know was there. I can’t wait to be finished and to go back and reread all of my thoughts from this past year…to see all of the grammatical errors because of typing at warp speed to try to get all of my feelings and thoughts into words.
This question was posed to me by a friend through Facebook. I believe our own needs are important for survival but I also see life as this great balancing act. There is something indescribable when choosing to do for others over doing for ourselves. Over this past year I chose to see the world through different lenses. I tried my hardest to understand the needs of others and give whenever and wherever I could even if it was just with words of kindness or encouragement. I have learned over time that we are growing into a world that holds the mentality that we are all owed a favor (ok maybe not all but far too many). I used to teach Teen Outreach Program classes and I had one class of students that were continually bitching and moaning about what everyone else had and how everything was always someone else’s fault. Meanwhile these students sat in my class and disrespected me every time I was with them by speaking to me in a manner that said “I don’t give a shit about you” and texting on their smart phones while I was trying to teach. It broke my heart to see a group of young people with such potential believing that there was nothing more important than their own individual needs. By the end of the year I was ready to be done with this group of students because I felt so defeated and felt like I had made no head way. It was a constant battle because what I was teaching them conflicted with what they were learning from their parents and older siblings. I knew that these kids acted the way they did because they were being shown this type of behavior in their homes (majority of these students came from low-income families that had been living for years on the welfare system) and no one was addressing their behavior and teaching them why it is wrong….no one was showing or teaching them compassion. Society has the potential to become less selfish but it won’t happen if we don’t look to ourselves and see our own faults and start modeling the behaviors we want to instill in children. Selfishness and laziness go hand in hand. If we want our children to practice compassion and kindness we have to do the work and model it for them…we need to admit our wrongdoings and show them when to take ownership. Unfortunately, our society has become too lazy to do the work so we have placed blame and pointed fingers at everyone else instead of admitting we are/were wrong and apologizing and moving forward.
The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes. We can become a less selfish society BUT that does not mean we will. I hate to say it but with the continual advancement of technology and the need for gadgets and material goods, we are losing sight of the importance of relationships. We live in a country where even the politicians are only looking out for #1 (this last election proved that). How can we expect our upcoming children to be compassionate and empathetic when our “leaders” are acting the most selfish of them all? I have always believed that every school (starting in Elementary school) should have a class for all students that focuses on compassion and empathy and giving back. Yes, I realize that a lot of schools give opportunities for kids to volunteer but I believe that children need to be taught what exactly compassion and empathy are and be given the opportunity to discuss it and decide for themselves how they are going to give back instead of being forced into it. We need the basics in school (math, science, English, etc.) but with the state of the world we really need to start teaching our kids about humility and kindness and the importance of helping others….we will never walk in another person’s shoes so we have no idea what struggles they may be going through. About 6 months ago I went to my usual gas station to get coffee and a couple was sitting outside with a sign that said: TRYING TO GET BACK HOME TO FLORIDA, COULD YOU PLEASE HELP? The two were dressed kind of “raggedy” and could definitely use a shower. Before getting back into my car I fished $10 out of my purse and handed it to the woman and said, “I hope that you may it back home soon and I ask of you to please do a good deed for someone when you get there.” The woman was so thankful and said, “Yes maam, thank you maam, we sure will.” I told a few people about them and everyone kept saying that I probably just fed their drinking or drug habits. My response was, “That may be true and it may not be. I have to believe that they were trying to get home and needed help. They may have had kids waiting for them. I do not know their story and in that moment the right thing to do was trust that they needed help and do what I could.” I did not do this for any recognition or for a pat on the back. I did it because two people were asking for help and I truly believe that when you do something good for another person/people it opens the door for them to do good as well. I believe it could lead someone to be inspired. There will come a time when I am going to need help and I have to believe that by doing for others I will have done for me in times of hardship. I believe you get back what you put out there. Yes, we are looking out for ourselves but at the same time we are teaching and modeling what humanity should be like. This is what needs to be taught very early on in life….to belief in the goodness in people….to do everything to not judge or assume because everyone has a different life story.