THINK ON THESE: Doing something for someone

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone
who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan


Someone asked a famous conductor of a great symphony orchestra which orchestral instrument he considered the most difficult to play. The conductor thought for a moment and then said, “Second fiddle.”

The interviewer was caught by surprise with his answer. So, he asked to explain why. “I can get plenty of first violinists,” the conductor said. “But to find one who can play second fiddle with enthusiasm – that’s a problem. And if we have no second fiddles, we have no harmony.”

That is what service is all about. There are people who want to be the center of attraction. There are also those who want fortune and fame. And there are those who are wealthy and yet willing to tender service to his fellow beings without much fanfare and recognition.

As American singer Pat Boone puts it, “The most attractive people in the world are the ones who are interested in others – turned outward in cheerfulness, kindness, appreciation, instead of turned inward to be constantly centered in themselves.”

It doesn’t matter if that help you extend to someone is big or small. What matters is your ability and capability of doing those things voluntarily. After all, big things come in small packages.

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important,” Mahatma Gandhi reminded. “You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your actions. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Chinese action superstar Jackie Chan thinks so, too. At one time, he was quoted as saying, “Sometimes, it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”

He was talking from his own experience. When he was born in Hong Kong, his parents couldn’t afford the hospital bill or food for him. In fact, he was almost sold to a British doctor for US$200.

“I was born into a poor family, and I stayed at an opera martial arts school for ten years,” he recalled. “Every month, the Red Cross would come, and we would wait in line for clothes, shoes or milk powder.”

One day, a priest gave him some milk. He thanked the priest, who replied with these words: “Don’t thank me. When you’re grown up, you will help other people.”

But it was after an incident where he almost died (when he fell from a tree while filming Armour of God in Yugoslavia) that he launched the Jackie Chan Foundation.

In an interview with Reader’s Digest in 2004, Chan shared this thought: “I have a project in mind. I cannot say it will succeed, but I will give it a go. I already have about 50 hectares of land in China, and I will establish a school and recruit students from all over the world. We will start with this prototype of less than 100 people, living together, learning the cultures of others, making movies. If there are then a million more Jackie Chans, then this (idea) will flourish and bear fruit. We will know others better.”

How noble, indeed. “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve,” Martin Luther King, Jr., said. “You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Now, allow me to share an anecdote. It may be funny but what matters is the importance of helping others. One time, a postal employee received a letter written in a childish scrawl. It was addressed to God. He didn’t know what to do so he opened the letter and read it.

“Dear God,” the letter said. “My name is Tommy. I am six years old. My father is dead and my mother is having a hard time raising us six kids. Can you send us P3,000?”

The postal worker was very moved by what he read. He showed the letter to his fellow workers and they all decided to take up a collection. They raised P2,500 and sent it to the family.

A few weeks later, they received a second letter, which read: “Next time, would you please send the money directly to our house? If it goes through the post office, they keep P500.”

Nobel Peace laureate Mother Teresa urged, “Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.”

Give without asking in return. Nathan C. Schaefer said it well: “At the close of life, the question will be: not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much you have won but how much have you done? Not how much have you saved but how much have you sacrificed? It will be how much have you loved and served; not how much were you honored?”

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