Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recipe for a better world

I know I've been going off-topic a lot these last few days, but this is one of those rare times where I've been inclined to do some introspection and soul-searching.

I've recently posted about getting mad at injustices worldwide and trying to find a way to make a difference on a larger scale. Today I'm going to make it even simpler and bring it down to an individual level.

When I was 12 years old I was a boyscout. Every week we had our meetings and in those meetings all of us would have to recall at least one good deed we'd performed in the previous seven days. Anything from holding the door for someone to visiting a retirement home. Again, I was 12 and I could come up with something good I did every week.

There was an old man that used to beg on a street corner near my apartment years ago in a poor neighborhood. His name was Jim. He was in his 80s and had been begging on that corner for the last 20 years. Jim lived with his daughter because he couldn't afford a place of his own. His daughter sent him out every night to beg and wouldn't let him back in the house unless he had made at least 100$. So out Jim went and stood there, sun or snow.
Everyone in the neighborhood knew him... One day something amazing started happening: a convenience store owner told Jim that instead of standing outside, he could hold the door to the store for the clients and he would give him 20$ per night on top of the change that customers would give him. A restaurant owner down the street gave him a cell phone, they told him they'd give him 20$ per night and if they needed ingredients that they would call so he would go pick them up and bring them to the restaurant. Me? I opened Jim a tab at a local coffee shop, he could have all the coffee he wanted and every Friday I'd pay it up. On his 84th birthday I went and bought a cooked chicken and a 6 pack of Pepsi and we ate it together on a bench. We didn't talk. At the end he shook my hand and thanked me. It was the last time I saw Jim because the week after I moved away.

I know it was a long story, but the moral of it is: Do something and don't expect anything in return. Someone will follow your lead and pay it forward. It all started with the convenience store owner's gesture and it trickled down to every one else.

By taking time out of your day and touching one life, you will inevitably inspire others to do the same. Hence making the world a better place.

Muchacho Enfermo

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