While the ‘taking culture’ has become a norm especially among young people, they need to realise that there are rewards to be gained in carrying out a good deed, even if they are not in cash or kind.
MANY of you must have witnessed or have been approached for donations to charitable causes when you are in a public place.
You could be in a restaurant and about to tuck into your favourite bowl of prawn noodles when a person comes up to you with photographs of a children’s home which is in a sorry state, and asks if you would like to contribute towards the repairs.
It could also be a folder containing information about a shelter for the homeless which runs mostly on donations from the public.
Most of the time, even though your meal is interrupted and you are not entirely sure about whether these causes are genuine or otherwise, but you are touched by the pictures you see.
Also, you feel that you ought to do your bit for the less fortunate and so you dig into your wallet or handbag to give them your .
However, when this happens each time you sit down to have a meal in a restaurant or are in another public place, you do tend to become a little suspicious about the authenticity of such causes.
You even begin to wonder whether it is legal for people to solicit funds this way from the public even if it was for a really worthy cause.
“I never give anything when people solicit funds this way,” said an ex-colleague somewhat brusquely.
“I don’t trust any of these people soliciting funds for supposed charitable causes in restaurants, train stations ... unless the charity or organisation is an establishedone.
“Even then, I’d rather give my donations through the right channels ... you know, the proper way. That way I am more certain about where my money is going.”
Another friend said that the orphanage or home for the aged, may turn out to be the mansion belonging to the head of a donation-soliciting syndicate and that the contributions may have been used to pay for its luxury cars instead of wheelchairs.’
A teacher friend was less cynical. “I must admit that I do have these thoughts,” she said.
“What if it is genuine? What if the man in tattered clothes and kid with sad eyes in tow is telling the truth when he says that they are homeless and haven’t eaten for three days? What if the old folks’ home really is in dire need of funds just to shelter the homeless and the elderly?
“Call me naïve, call me simple but because of the many ‘what ifs’ in my mind, I give what I can and just pray that it will be channelled in the right direction to help someone who needs help.
“I guess there are many things beyond our control,” she added with a shrug, “but I like to think that I have contributed in some way” she added.
It is also the same in school when sometimes envelopes are passed around the staffroom soliciting contributions for a well- deserved cause.
Most of the time teachers give readily especially when it is for victims of a natural disaster, tragedy, or for those who have been recently bereaved.
We also seldom hesitate to contribute to funds for the needy students in our school.
Some teachers even go so far as to “sponsor” their students’ lunches, uniforms or revision books.
Other times however, when we are not convinced about the legitimacy of the cause, we give a minimal amount just to be able to put a tick next to our name which indicates that we have contributed, before we pass the envelope to someone else.
But then again, true giving is giving from the heart and this is also what the Christmas season is all about, beginning of course from God’s gift to mankind.
There are some who go on to say that you haven’t really given if no sacrifice is involved, and that when you do give something to someone, it should be something that you still need or cherish and not what you have no use for anyway.
Giving merely to fulfil an obligation or to ease a conscience certainly has some form of merit but is nowhere near as meaningful as giving sacrificially.
Worse still is giving in order to flaunt your “generosity” or to look good in public.
And yet, sometimes when we think about it, the act of receiving may be just as important as giving, and one that may be overlooked in all the preoccupation with giving.
Being a gracious recipient is also important, and while some of us have mastered the art of giving, we may have a long way to go when it comes to receiving something.
Perhaps receiving is also something to do with pride – you have always been the one who gives, or perhaps it is just because you have been giving so much all your life that it has become a label stuck wih you.
In schools sometimes there are
teachers who take advantage of this by artfully shoving some of their own duties to the shoulders of the ones who can’t say “No”, the ones who feel obliged to be always on the giving end.
On the other extreme there are those who have no qualms about laying claim to things that aren’t really theirs and generally behave as if the whole world owes them something for just existing.
I used to wonder where this kind of attitude stemmed from. How do people come to a stage where they believe that others should hand something over to them just because they ask for it?
I remember feeling a little shocked the first time when a child of walked near the aisle and asked for money to buy a particular snack he wanted while his well-heeled mother smiled indulgently above her full shopping cart.
Although I have become more used to such blatant acts of people asking for cash since then, I have always wondered how parents allow their children to approach complete strangers and ask for belanja (treat).
Teachers will also be accustomed to the familiar “Cikgu, belanja Cikgu” from students asking them for a treat for the most trivial reasons at times; if they have helped you to carry a pile of books for instance, if they have done well on a test or if it is Teachers Day.
One teacher even said that her students asked her for a treat when they found out that it was her birthday.
“It seems to have become a kind of culture ...this demanding for treats, for handouts, for freebies.
“I remember the days when I was a student. We felt so privileged to be able to help our teachers and how we saved up money to give our teachers a treat for her birthday.
“The satisfaction we got from being able to give was a reward in itself,” she added.
Things have definitely changed over the years and the spirit of selflessness, the giving of time, energy and substance may have dimmed somewhat in our schools.
In a world where qualities like sacrifice, thoughtfulness and generosity are not always as highly esteemed as status and material wealth, we have to perhaps allow our students to experience the rewards of doing something without expecting anything in return.