It was a rainy afternoon, and I was passing by a churchyard. It seemed like that a mass had just ended that time as lots of people were making their way out of the small church. Within the vicinity of the churchyard were several street vendors selling prayer books and rosaries as well as several beggars murmuring under their breaths and asking for alms from the churchgoers. As I was walking along, minding my own business, a young couple caught my eye. They weren’t doing any act of PDA (public display of affection), mind you – and thank goodness – but their abrupt stop on their way out of the churchyard, for some reason, just caught my attention. When I looked at them, I saw the man frantically searching inside his bag while supporting his umbrella’s handle under his chin. You can tell that he was in some sort of difficulty, having to keep the umbrella balanced to shield himself from the rain and sorting through his things in his bag at the same time. My initial guess was that he might have left something in the church or that he had been pick pocketed.
Apparently, it was neither.
The reason he stopped was because he was looking for some money to give to the beggar who was standing next to him.
For a minute, I froze. I froze at the kindness of the man. I froze at his generosity. I froze at the sight of this young man taking the time to take out some money to give to a beggar despite the extra effort and despite the rain. I froze at the rarity of what I’m witnessing.
It may be true that it is not uncommon to find people who give alms to the poor or who donate to victims of calamities. I agree, generous people are easy to find – but most people are (more) generous only when it’s convenient. We take the time to donate relief goods to victims of earthquakes or typhoons only when we’re not affected by the disaster. We offer to help someone out only when we’re not too busy. We give alms to the street kids only when we have spare change that could be conveniently taken out from our pockets. We make donations to people living in far-flung areas through humanitarian organizations because that’s more convenient than having to trek for 3 hours just to deliver the goods to Far-Away Village. Of course, these don’t apply to 10 out of 10 instances or to 10 out of 10 people, but they’re commonplace. That is because humans are, by nature, selfish. We will think of ourselves and of our comfort first before we start to consider others. We will, more often than not, take the easier route if we end up at a crossroad. This is not exactly our fault though; it is but a flaw in our humanity. There is no way we can completely change that, but we can try to minimize such a flaw. After all, I’d like to believe that most of our actions, our habits, are products of conditioning. We can learn things, and we can learn something until it becomes second nature to us, until it becomes an automatic response.
Let us take this man as an inspiration or as a motivation to start learning how to be generous even at an inconvenient situation. If he can do it, so can we. In the future, maybe we will no longer find ourselves ignoring a call for kindness just because the act of benevolence is extra hassling. Maybe we will no longer base our actions and reactions to assistance on convenience. Maybe, we can learn to make generosity an automatic response within our body’s system – to help not only when we have spare moments, not only when it’s easy. Take the challenge, and make yourself a better person. Together, we can all learn to acquire such a habit, increase the quality of our lives, and live more meaningfully.