by Henrylito D. Tacio
While reading my favorite daily recently, I came across a news report that multi-awarded singer-actress Barbra Streisand donated US$5 million for research on women’s cardiac problems, which kills half a million of American women every year.
“Women need to be educated about female cardiovascular disease, and the medical community must be propelled toward change,” explained the Broadway singer who catapulted to stardom with her Oscar-winning 1968 performance in ‘Funny Girl,’ why she gave such a huge amount.
If you were in her shoes, would you give such an amount for a cause? Well, you don’t have to be a millionaire to give a huge amount. Just give what you can afford. As Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Or as what an Arab proverb urges, “If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.”
“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give,” says Barbara Bush. “You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it,” pointed out Albert Schweitzer.
Anne Frank, who wrote ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ stated, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” To which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill added, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“For it is in giving that we receive,” reminded Saint Francis of Assisi. German-born American physicist Albert Einstein echoed the same sentiment. “The value of a man,” he wrote, “resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
At one time, a rich man complained to his friend. “People don’t like me,” he said. “They say I’m selfish and stingy. And yet in my last will and testament, I have donated all that I own to a charitable institution.”
Hearing his explanation, the friend told him. “Well, maybe the story of the cow and the pig has a lesson for you. The pig came to the cow and grumbled, ‘People always talk about your friendliness. Well, it’s true: you give them milk. But they get much more from me. They get ham and bacon and lard, and they even cook my feet. And yet – no one likes me. To all of them, I am just a pig. Why is that?’
“The cow thought it over a bit and then said, ‘Perhaps it’s because I give while I am still alive.’” This reminds me of a line from a Shaina Twain song, “It’s important to give it all you have while you have the chance.”
An open hand can receive, but a closed hand cannot. The phrase has a Biblical ring and a Biblical wisdom that applies profoundly to everyday human affairs. The man who will not share himself with his neighbors receives little friendship in return. The tight parental grip that holds children too closely defeats its own purpose in the end. It is no accident, probably, that in many countries, the symbol of totalitarianism is the one that you can’t shake hands with: a clenched fist.
“To be sower of seeds, a man must open his hand,” said Arthur Gordon. “He must do this, clearly, before he can reap. And the process doesn’t stop there. To possess knowledge or wisdom, he must open his mind. If he wants to receive love, he must offer it – and to do this, he will need an open heart. A closed hand cannot receive – partly because it is shut, and nothing can get in. But mostly because it has nothing to give.”
A very conscientious Christian lady looked back on her childhood in a big city. She was from a wealthy family, and as she puts it, “The poor were our pets.” On Sunday, it was the favorite charity of these superior Christians to make the rounds of the cells at the police station. The men, in particular, did this. They visited the weekend drunks, lectured them, forced them to take the pledge, and then bailed them out of jail so they would be back to work on Monday.
These do-gooders were smugly respectable, very visibly in a different moral category from those to whom they gave. They had only one fault: they never gave themselves. Lebanese-born American philosophical essayist Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
Dr. Karl Meninnger, the famous psychiatrist, once gave a lecture on mental health and afterward answered questions from the audience. “What would you advise a person to do,” asked one man, “if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?”
Most people expected the doctor to reply, “Consult a psychiatrist.” To their astonishment, he replied, “Lock up your house, go across the highway, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.”
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more,” Anthony Robbins said.
Each of us has the responsibility to give. We get the best out of others when we give the best of ourselves. American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. urged, “Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege.” The Lord Jesus Christ himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”