Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. – Robert Kennedy
The other day I found this piece of driftwood. It resembled a hand waving to me from the surf. I took it home and dumped out half a kilo of sand before sanding it by hand. Over the hours of sanding with finer and finer grade sandpaper the wood grain began to show through and subtle details emerged. Working with this wood reminded me of life, and the efforts we make to help others. The work reveals as much about the doer as it does the receiver.
I learned from my parents how to lend a helping hand with no expectations of return. Both of my parents grew up in hard times. When we were kids they taught us fundamental lessons by example. My mother, rest her soul, showed me the true meaning of tolerance and righteousness. I learned from my father how to be forthright and resolute. In turn I showed these positive characteristics to my children who are the finest human beings I know. And I always tried my best to lend a hand to those in need, no matter how small the need. As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
I lived for over a decade in China, a culture very different from my own. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned in that time was – underneath the veneer of culture and social expectations we are all the same. As a teacher I always did my best to do as my mother taught me and treat others with respect and kindness. This was especially true when I taught little children. Each day I did my utmost to respect their individual dignity and appreciate their uniqueness. So many times people’s stares of curiosity about me were met with smiles and kindness. I tried as my father taught me to say thank you for any act of kindness or service. And without hesitation I lent a hand wherever I could.
As this year comes to a close, send forth ripples of hope from your heart. Let your helping hand be a shining example for others. Give generously of yourself. Perhaps our millions of centers of energy can light the way to a better future for all. Bless you and yours.