Featured in the Hong Kong Economic Journal (May 4, 2013)
It has been sobering reading the news these past couple of weeks. Whether it’s been about heartless bombings, destructive earthquakes or meaningless shootings, they’ve all been heartbreaking. Many people have posed the question ‘What is wrong with our world?’
The sad reality is that throughout history, sad, heartbreaking things have happened, whether they be natural disasters or the ill-doings of man. And unfortunately, sad, heartbreaking events will continue to happen. The perhaps natural reaction to these things are shock, sadness, pity but often they lead to anger, blame and complaining – whether they be directed at people or God. It’s so easy to point our fingers at the wrongdoers and think how evil they are or at God for allowing disasters to happen.
But I’d like to offer an alternate reaction. The things that happen in this world can be horrific and heartless but those are also the times when compassion can be demonstrated at its greatest. Take the Boston bombings for example, men and women ran towards the bombing site to save others, websites were created to help people find shelter, restaurants opened their doors to offer people free meals. It is in times of darkness that light can shine the brightest.
I love the story in the Bible about the Good Samaritan. So it’s about how a man was injured by the side of the road and obviously needed help. He had been robbed, beaten and left on the side of the road. Three men walked past the wounded man that day. The first man saw him but walked past him, perhaps not wanting to be inconvenienced. The second man also saw him and walked past him, perhaps he had other things on his mind. But the third man that saw him had compassion on him and helped him. He went out of his way to help him by healing his wounds and providing transportation and shelter for the wounded man. He saw the situation as an opportunity to lend a helping hand.
And as we take this to modern day life, we, too, could learn from the third man. When we see tragedy, do we point fingers and walk past? Or stop to extend a hand? Every negative situation can be an opportunity to help.
A couple years ago, my 17-year-old cousin did something very admirable. When he learnt that a tsunami had hit Japan and that many people were injured and homeless, he immediately started to think about how he could help. He knew he couldn’t fly to Japan to help but he thought about the ways in which he could use his talents to help. He is an extremely gifted designer and so he immediately designed a t-shirt, found a t-shirt printing company and made hundreds of fundraising t-shirts to sell. He sold them at school, at concerts, at charity events and raised thousands of dollars to help those in Japan.
Helping others can start young. As parents, we can help our children to be caring and compassionate. I’m not saying children should run to a bombing site to save other people’s lives but it’s about helping in small ways. Give your children opportunities to help family members, friends and loved ones. When someone is sick, encourage your child to bring them medicine and a homemade card. When a meaningful cause is fundraising, encourage them to donate some of their pocket money. When there is an opportunity to visit elderly at a community centre, encourage them to give of their time.
I was recently very encouraged. We were organizing community service trips to elderly centres for our students to attend. They were so eager and enthusiastic to help. Some offered to sing songs to entertain the elderly, some put in a lot of effort into make gifts for them, and one other messaged me every day for a week in his enthusiasm to plan the best event he could for the elderly. And at the end of it all, one student said to me, “I’m so happy I got to make someone so happy today”. These children had learnt the power of their helping hands.
So what will we do with our hands? What will we teach our children to do with their hands? Will they be using their hands to point fingers at others or using their hands to lend a helping hand? Let’s put the power of our hands to good use.