The other day my friend Luis Suarez wrote an amazing article about sharing on his blog. You should definitely read it – and watch the great video, too. It will teach you something! Luis’s thoughts triggered something in me. They made me think about myself and my habit of sharing. Whilst Luis reflects mainly on how he shares his knowledge with his fellow workers (I am privileged to be one of them) I would like to reflect a little bit on what sharing means in a personal, a social environment.
We probably all realize that we live in a world that’s drifting further apart. It feels strange to go shopping in town for something I don’t necessarily need while other people sit there on the street with their little paper cups in front of them, hoping that I’ll throw in my spare change. Years and years ago, when I was younger and less experienced, I never gave anything. I thought if they really wanted to they could find a job, earn their money and lead their lives in a safe environment. Little did I know.
I did not see how privileged I was in the first place to be able to visit school, graduate and then earn my first money while being healthy enough to serve in the Navy. I was able to go to college and had my first job even before I left. Although my personal life has had a few difficulties, I have never really been on a truly difficult path in economic terms.
Over the years I’ve become older (we all do, don’t we) and much more mature. I realize that although I usually felt safe, I never really was. You always live on the edge. And you never know what’s around the next corner. I’ve been lucky enough to stay on that edge and to lead my life on the safer side of life. But I saw that there was another side and how easy it can be to slip into it. It could just happen, without you doing anything at all.
This made me understand a lot and changed my point of view. You never know what’s happened or is still happening to people. And it’s not my job (or my right) to judge their fate. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway – but help. I firmly believe that people should share the fortune they have. It is never the result of a person’s own creation if they live in better conditions than others. It is always a mixture of your own efforts and happy circumstances. So there’s always a good portion of luck (whether “deserved” or not) that we should never take for granted but share as soon as we have it.
And that’s what I try to do. Whenever someone comes up to me and asks for a few coins, I give them some. I have to admit that I still dislike unkind or even rough behaviour but usually I will give more than they expect. I have no problem with just giving away things I no longer need rather than making five or ten euros by selling them. There’ll always be someone who can use those things and for whom they are still of value.
I am sure that sharing always changes something in people. My experience (the good and the bad) taught me a lot and changed me. My belief is that sharing with others makes a difference to them and opens up the chance that they will make a difference to other people – maybe to me one day – as well. Sharing what I have is not the big thing – but it’s still something I can do. And I enjoy doing it: Just a simple smile from someone I’ve never met before, plus a friendly word – that makes my day every single time.