Today I was in the Philippines, Makati to be exact, preparing for a week of work with our outsource provider and had a bit of a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious). I realised that I can and should help more people. But why do I need a shock to get me to realise this obvious fact? In one word, values.
Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you are sitting on a busy entertainment street in downtown Asia, having a frosty beer and hearty burger. It's pissing down rain and surprisingly cold for tropical Asia, but it's okay as you are undercover. Right across the street from you, there are children trying to sell flowers to make a few Peso to have some food. They are soaking wet, shivering, and hungry with their hands out for you to help. What do you do?
If you were anything like most tourists (and me) you have been warned off giving to these kids. "It's a scam!" I have heard. "You are only encouraging them to beg." People have said. It's true they have tried to pick pocket me before, but who can blame them when I have so much and they so little.
Most often I just walk past, but today I just couldn't. Maybe it's because I am away from my kids. Perhaps it's because they were so young. Maybe it's the cold. Whatever the reason I thought about the best way to help them and decided to buy them milk and some food. At least try to do something positive.
I think the reason most people don't help those less fortunate is that the problem seems so large. I could walk around Manila and see hundreds if not thousands of poor children living on the street. Do I buy food for all of them? Of course you can't but why not extend a helping hand to just a few.
Interestingly after they raced off with my bag of goodies, I noticed another guy my age went and bought more food for them. I can only presume, seeing me help a little, let him know it was okay to do the same. He could have been thinking the same as me? That got me thinking about the catchiness of charity. Is it like yawning when people see doing good deeds or does it depend on your own personal values?
I can only answer from my perspective. My heart strings were pulled because they were kids. Anything to do with helping disadvantaged kids and I'm in. Not to say I don't respect other causes, but because my kids and so high on my value list of what's important it taints my values for charity as well. I suspect this is the same for others as I see many people create movements when someone close to them has been afflicted by a specific illness or disease. It's all about how personal it is to you - your values. I know right BFO!
So my challenge to all reading this is make a connection to what's important to you and give a little. It just could help one person who is having a bad day to do a little bit better. The smiles on the kids faces was worth more than all the money in my pocket.
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