Being from one part of the world and living in another affords a person the chance to wonder, observe, and appreciate what it is that binds us all in this human experience minus all of those polarizing lines of demarcation.
My journey in this life is perhaps not so remarkable, but it is who I am. Each place and time that I have lived in has left an indelible and ineffable imprint on the world that is my life. I believe each person inhabits her or his own world that was created through fate, inheritance, action and inaction. The result is, however, not only the physical world of each person's own residence, but also the lens with which they see out.
Having grown up in my homeland of the US in an upper-middle class, educated family was part of sheer inheritance and fate. I realize that I was fortunate to know some luxuries in my life, not the least of which were the luxuries of having a home, food, health care, and an education. I can't say that I can imagine what it must feel like to have lived differently because I realize that all of the aspects, considerations, and concerns that converge to shape a person's life can never be fully appreciated or understood by another, but it should be attempted none-the-less.
In times passing too fleetingly in my life, I have known those affected by a less financially fortunate life than my own. As a teacher in the inner city schools of Boston, I met and fell in love with children from families, some that had no heat in the dead of winter, others not enough food to feed their child before he came to school to get his one meal of the day, still others living with family members jammed into apartments too small to house them. These people became part of my world; regardless, that the time I knew them was brief. And I would like to think that in some ways I did something to help them, however small it may have been. But in looking back, I see that what I could have done was so much more, and regret is such a bitter and constant companion.
I think most people would like to reach out to others and help but are stymied by not knowing where to begin. Where I live now, there are areas where families live in squalor, (I know about them because I have seen some pictures on peoples' blogs.) and my own children know nothing of such things. It is my intention to find a way to help at least one of such families. I want my children to make an effort to make a difference. That requires that they, and I, step out of our own worlds and into another's.
Of course, there are so many ways to help the world so vast with people needing a helping hand. One of such ways is through Heifer. That is a great organization that helps people help themselves. But there is so much need out there that is just waiting for caring and innovative people to find a way to attend to it. It seems too daunting a task. Until it dawns on me: I know of some people right here with me who qualify and are just waiting for someone to teach them that this is something important, that this is more satisfying than the latest PSP game or designer purse, and this is something that could not only write on their lives in a meaningful way, but also shape the lens with which they view the world around them. It is only a small start.
"Every Muslim has to give in charity". The people asked, "O Allah's Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?" He said, "He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns)." The people further asked, "If he cannot find even that?" He replied, "He should help the needy who appeal for help." Then the people asked, "If he cannot do that?" He replied, "Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds."