Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Planting Seeds of Hope - Paying It Forward

In my last entry I committed to taking the advice of a Roman Catholic official who suggested celebrating the Lenten season by giving $10 to a stranger and asking them to give it someone in need of a helping hand. I haven't done it yet, but I will be in the coming days. I took some time to think it over and I decided that simply handing $10 to a random stranger would be stretching my faith in humanity to the limit.

I also want to do it in such a way that it won't neccessarily be viewed as something with religious overtones. Because frankly I consider myself a: Christian, Budhist, Jewish, Sikh, Shinto, Pagan, Druid and Hindu. Ooops, almost forgot Budhist, but then we Budhists aren't a proud lot.

Qwen71n commented on the entry saying:

Doesn't giving a religious significance to a good deed, such as charity donation or something, diminish its value? That way one is just buying himself out of the Hell, instead of being good for the sake of it.

I share that sentiment, believing in the law of kharma as most good Hindus do. So with that in mind I composed a letter to accompany the $10 gift. This is what it says:

I recently asked a stranger if he or she knew of anyone who was struggling or having a rough time. I then asked them to give this letter and the attached $10 to that person. I know it isn’t much, I’ve been through a rough stretch myself. Use it for whatever will help you right now. I know some may find it difficult to ask for or to receive help, but know that you’ve given me something in return, the satisfaction that comes from helping someone…anonymously.

Keep trying and never give up. I know that you will make it. And when you do all I ask is that you ‘Pay it Forward’. When once again the wind is at your back, strike up a conversation with a stranger, and when you sense a kind and giving spirit, give them this letter or a copy along with $10 and the same instructions I gave, to help someone out who’s having a rough time.

You’re going to make it, keep having faith.
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Things are pretty bleak for a lot of people out there, and while I don't have the resources to make a truly meaningful impact on anyone's financial situation...I do think a simple gesture like this could have an enormous impact on someone's spirits. And it isn't about any religion for me...I was careful in choosing the wording, leaving out anything that might hint at Christianity or any other religion. I did hesitate about using that last, but then I reasoned that faith is something that stretches beyond religion. People can have faith in themselves, in others...that things will work out in the end.

I'd be interested in reading any thoughts or ideas readers might have. I'm also wondering if others might be inspired to do the same or something similar? I watched Obama's speech to Congress last night and was genuinely moved by many of the things he said. The greatest challenge facing both Americans and Canadians right now is in maintaining hope and rejecting despair. I think something like this letter and a simple $10 bill might actually help.

Comments are welcomed, I read them all. Feel free to pass this blog entry along via email or through a social network like FaceBook, just click on the ‘Share This’ icon below.

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