By: Mangkholun Touthang
How do you feel when someone needs something from you and you give it away generously? And how do you feel when someone needs something from you but you refuse to give it away? Or how do you feel when you’re being given generously, and what is your thought when you are being denied what you asked for? Of course when we’re generous and open we have this feeling that satisfies our soul which also makes us want to repeat the same generosity. But when I am mean to somebody I feel like there’s a void in my heart that desperately needs to be filled. Being generous is something a lot of people find it hard to do. It’s more uneasy to be generous and open to someone when we are broke and needy. But what counts is that you give away to the needy in spite of your financial problems.
Being generous means to give someone something you own for free or make the price pretty cheaper, lend someone your money without asking for interest, give your costliest clothes to someone who needs it, help your neighbour without asking for any earnings, help somebody who runs out of gas while on his journey by sharing your gas, give away your old books to someone for free, and a lot more of generosity acts. I have come across people who are generous and mean. And what I’ve figured out and what you too might found out is that the generous one often looks contented and his countenance bright and beautiful, but the miser always looks pale and unhappy. It seems like the generous one grows the more he gives and the mean one drops the more he’s being mean. The idiom, “the more you give, the more you receive” is literally true and it is something we should put into practice, not just aware of it.
While we’re fighting this deadly Covid-19, people who live hand-to-mouth are most affected. Some people in other states are starving and becoming poorer due to Covid restrictions. Thank God we don’t have starving people here in Manipur. One of the reasons why we don’t starve is due to the unceasing aid of several Good Samaritans and philanthropic organisations we have in our state. They work tirelessly to make sure everyone eats and drinks and no person die of starvation. The works of those Samaritans and philanthropic organisations are also acts of generosity and their generosity is saving thousands of lives. Therefore, it’s clear generosity saves lives. But what if people starve and nobody or no organisation takes a step to help them? What if we turn a blind eye to those starving and helpless people out there? It’s obvious our meanness or selfishness would kill thousands of people by starvation. So here is a short story of how selfishness takes the life of a WW2 survivor.
One day, toward the close of World War II in a fashionable western home, the phone rang. The woman who answered heard the words, “Hi, Mom, I’m coming home.” It was her sailor son just back from active duty. He was calling from San Diego. The mother was wild with joy. Her son was alive! The son went on. “Mom, I’m bringing a buddy with me. He got hurt pretty bad. Only has one eye, one arm and one leg. He has no home and I’d sure like him to live with us.” The mother said, “Sure, son, he can stay with us for awhile.” But the son said, “mom, you don’t understand. I want him to live with us always.” Said the mother, “Well, OK, we’ll try it for a year.” “But, Mom, I want him to be with us always. He’s in bad shape, one eye, one arm, one leg.” At last the mother got impatient and said, “son, you’re too emotional about this. You’ve been in a war. The boy will be a drag on us.”
After she said that the phone clicked, and went dead. The next day the parents received a telegram from the Navy. Their son had leaped to his death from the twelfth floor of a San Diego hotel. In a few days the body was shipped home. When the casket was opened the parents stared at their son’s body. He had one eye, one arm and one leg. With crushing pain came understanding. Fearing rejection, their son had phoned seeking acceptance. His mother’s unwillingness to show love and bear a burden had snapped his fragile will to live. “Selfishness is not simply unattractive. It is deadly,” says George Verwer in his book “Priority One.”
I believe every religion would encourage its followers to be generous. In Buddhism, practicing generosity is believed to help train the mind in a way conducive to attaining enlightenment. Charity is held as a noble deed in Hinduism and “a stranger may become a loved one through generosity” says a Hindu proverb. In Christianity too, Godlike Giving is greatly encouraged. “We are more blessed when we give than when we receive” says the Bible. As I have said in the first paragraph, being generous is something not all human beings usually do. I have known rich people who got a lot of money, expensive motors and houses, who live their lives to the fullest but can’t even give a single rupee to the poor. And I also have known a lot of people who have only a little but give away generously. Who would you rather be: the rich who don’t give a single penny to the poor or the person who has a little but gives away generously?