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There are still around 1 billion people living at the margins of survival on less than US$1 a day.  
United Nations Development Program - 2007  


January 8th, 2009 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009, I hope all of you have enjoyed your holidays.  Like the rest of you, I’ve been busy over the last couple of weeks.  I’ve stuffed my face with turkey, braved ridiculous traffic, given and received presents, and spent time with family and friends.   I even brought in the new year at a bar packed full of drunken revellers.  At the same time, I tried to get a few things done for the Nation.  We’ve been working on a media section where you’ll be able to watch our videos, download flyers, posters, etc.  It should be added to the menu soon, keep an eye out for it.


I’ve had some rather odd conversations with people of late.  Granted, this is nothing new for me.  It’s kind of a pastime of mine and a constant source of annoyance for my friends.  One of these really stood out for me, though.  I think it’s because it was an entirely new discussion for me.  I spoke with a young woman who was wracked with guilt.


Why did she feel guilty?  For living so well while so many others suffered.  Forget all of the usual ranting about politics, religion, economics, etc.  This woman was just deeply troubled because she enjoys a relatively comfortable life.  Now, I know that a lot of people feel a twinge of guilt when they pass a homeless person on the street or see skeletal children with bloated bellies on late night infomercials.  This woman however, was actually quite upset on a daily basis.  


She just couldn’t stop thinking about all of those unfortunate souls who weren’t gifted with the right birthplace.  It robbed her life of meaning.  She didn’t see any value in her job, her house, her education, or her daily life.  She’d reached a point where she just didn’t see the point in any of them.  I was at a complete loss.  On one hand, I am not about to tell anyone that life should revolve around a job, possessions, or the minutia of everyday life.  At the same time, I certainly don’t think that everyone should drop everything and run off to try and save the world.  


As for the guilt, I really just didn’t get it.  Why feel guilty?  Guilt is one of the most useless emotions out there.  Trust me on this, I’m an expert. Guilt by itself can do nothing but poison you.  You probably remember your mother telling you at one point that “there are kids starving in Africa” when you didn’t finish your dinner.   While the sentiment may be nice, it is still useless.  If you really want to make the point, grab your leftovers and head down to a local soup kitchen.

We are lucky.  Instead of feeling guilty about it, be thankful.  Gratitude is a far better emotion than guilt.  Instead of feeling guilty, realize that your job, your house, your comfort, provide you the means to help those that can’t help themselves.  Why squander the effort that you and your parents have invested in your life on guilt?  We have been granted with a lifestyle that most of the world can’t even imagine.  Frankly, I think it’s an insult to the unfortunate if you don’t enjoy it.  We all know someone that was given everything.  Someone who has never worked, and yet has all of the things you want.  These people have the lifestyle which we aspire to, and yet don’t appreciate it.  It’s infuriating is it not?  


Enjoy your comfort.  Enjoy your excess if you want to.  Buy your fancy cars and your toys if you like.  Eat expensive meals and waste money on foolish things if it pleases you.  This is your life, enjoy it.  Don’t feel guilty about having money.  Don’t feel guilty about living well.  Anyone that has the opportunity to enjoy their life should do so to the fullest.  To not do so is no different than throwing all that food off of your plate into the garbage.  It’s wasteful and an insult to the billions of people who aren’t as fortunate as yourself.  


Having said that, don’t forget how lucky you are.  Don’t forget about everyone else.  Your luck, your comfort, your education, your opportunity is a gift.  Living well is a relative term.  Everyone has different priorities and motivation.  Do what is right for you.  If you need to quit your job and devote your life to helping others in order to be happy, great.  The better you live, the happier you are, the more success you achieve, the more you can do for others.  Instead of feeling guilty when you watch that infomercial, pick up the phone.  When you pass that homeless guy on the street, help him out.  Buying a brand new car?  Donate the old one.  Auction it off for charity.  Give it to someone you know who might be struggling.  Our lifestyle gives us a hundred opportunities daily to help others.  If we all just did a couple of nice things a day, the world would be forever changed.  Oh, and donate a dollar a month of course.  :)

Sincerely,


Keith

 
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