By: Zara Maqbool
Last week I went to the China market in Rawalpindi. While crossing the road I saw a young boy sleeping on a small green patch amidst loud traffic sounds and very hot weather. This is neither a rare nor an unfamiliar sight for us in Pakistan. Yet seeing this boy, who is same age as my son, with his torn shirt, dirty trousers and badly broken heels made me stop for a moment and I took his photograph. His image keeps popping up on my phone and it was nothing short of a reality check.
A reality check for many things! Firstly to internalize more gratitude in myself for so many countless blessings that I have taken for granted. Secondly for catching my breath from the rat race I am in voluntarily and re-visiting my perspective towards life. Thirdly and not lastly, prioritizing what is more important in life and more importantly trying to figure what is more important.
I am not claiming to be a saint but this boy sleeping on this green patch did shake me up a bit. I had gone to the China market planning to get amongst other things some toys for my children and I returned without getting any. But was, not getting the toys enough? Later on I felt ashamed for coming home without waking him up and buying a pair of shoes for him. And I thought to myself what stopped me from spending just mere Rs.1000 for him? It wasn’t money for sure that stopped me but the fact is, the thought did not cross my mind. And so I thought why didn’t I think of such an easy gesture of giving?
I strongly feel that we as a nation simply don’t think as much as we need to, when it comes to giving.
We literally have to train our minds to think differently. To learn not to passively turns our heads away when we see the less fortunate and just accept that we belong to a different class. We have to do more than simply giving ‘Zakat’ and ‘Sadqa’ which again is for ourselves and not for others. Its going to take more for us for inculcate an attitude of giving and not turning our heads away.
Many years ago I watched a movie called ‘Pay it forward’ which is based on the networking of good deeds. How you pay forward three favors after receiving one from someone rather than paying it back to that person.
This is what we need to work on. Our country has a good number of people who work on giving back to the society in many ways. People like Muniba Mazari with her food drive or many others who run various charity drives. But as a nation it’s not enough to create the balance between the haves and have-nots.
A Harvard study states that “happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”
We can help in so many ways that doesn’t include monetary help only. Volunteering in the local government school, visiting orphanages or senior citizens home for nothing but to spend some time with them are simple gestures that can go a long way. Tutoring a student, fixing and serving meals or even sharing our credit cards rewards is just a few of the things that we can do.
But the question remains are we willing to? Are we willing to get one branded shoe or bag less and make a life changing difference in someone’s life? Empathy demands sacrifice. Buying your favorite lawn suit for 7000 plus and giving 500 in charity might work for our conscience but will not have an impact on who you are contributing to. Not buying that suit at all and having just one less in your over flowing wardrobe might make a bigger difference. We have to pay our riches and blessings forward. So what are we waiting for?