There are so many ways in which we as individuals can do good things for ourselves and the community. Yesterday I was thinking about the book How to be Good by Nick Hornsby, a humorous look at the extremes one man goes to in order to do what he thinks is "good". Giving away posessions, taking in someone who needs shelter and in the process causing hardship and strife within his family. In his own funny way Hornsby prompts the reader to consider: what is doing good? Does one have to deprive one's self in order to promote the greater good? What if your good acts towards one person cause harm to another? Can there be a balance?
The protagonist (I can't remember his name) believes that in order to be a be a good person, things need to be done on a large scale. He sacrifices the feelings of his own family to do what he thinks is right, trying hard to be an ideal person. It appeared to me that he failed, not because he didn't help people while performing his acts of kindness, but because he hurt is family in the process.
Typically, when we think of someone selfless, it's someone who is doing things on a large scale: travelling to impoverished countries to assist with education, joining the Peace Corps, donating large sums of money to charities, taking in as many homeless animals as their space allows. Absolutely noble acts, no doubt about it. But what about people who do things on a small scale, are their acts any less important? Do we have to renounce all material posessions and put aside the feelings of our families in order to be truly "good"?
Clearly the world is a better place because of the people who do things on large scale; we need activists and those who make these causes their life's work. Does that make the things we all do on a day-to-day basis any less important? I'd say not. Each person is capable of doing great things, many of which go unnoticed. Isn't it important to cherish your family, love and support your children, friends, parents? Share what you have without going without? Doing your part to take care of your pets, home and the environment in a responsible way? How would the world be if we each started with these small things and then expanded the circle of giving as circumstances allowed? Just something to think about.
I'll close with two of my favorite quotes from Mother Theresa: "In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love."
"If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one". Amen!