“Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift.”– Pablo
He arrived with nothing. He was helpless. He had no clothes, he had no words to express his needs, all he knew to do was cry. She came quite the same way. She had nothing packed for the trip, for her new home, nor did she have the knowledge of what she might need. As she burst onto the scene, she burst into tears. Being the newcomer and needing help makes us so vulnerable. Being born into the world after having spent 40 weeks feeling warm and safe to suddenly realizing you are exposed sounds like a frightening way to find yourself, yet whether you are the wealthiest person or the most impoverished person, you entered the room the same way, you entered the world that way. We wouldn’t leave a newborn unattended, and following Pablo’s suggestion, we should attend to others who might ‘need a lift’ — our willingness to help another can make a great difference in his or her life.
“I’ll do it myself!” the little girl responded when offered help from a well-meaning adult. I wonder if the independent little girl had come to the adult and said, “I can’t put my shoes on by myself,” if she would have been shamed for not being more self-sufficient. Since I have watched that very thing happen, I don’t really have to wonder.
There are a few odd things that happen with the subject of help:
- We want to help others and are offended when they won’t allow us to help
- We don’t want others to help us but expect them to allow us to help them
- We act as if people who ask for our help are lower on the social strata because they asked instead of refused help.
Wow, what mixed messages we send — if you don’t let me help you, I’m mad, and if you ask me to help you, I think you’re too needy. Add to that the problem with allowing others to help us or even breaking down to ask others to help us, and you have a lot of confusion as to the best way to deal with help and need and pride.
It would seem to be our pride that trips us up — helping us teach children that they should want our help but shouldn’t need our help and shaming adults when they find they do. Only two times in life do we seem to make exceptions: at birth and in the face of tragedy.
Watching the people in several countries affected by recent hurricanes, I’ve seen people entering the world (from the storm) much the way they did when they were born: crying and with nothing — no clothing, no valuables, only this very basic need to be helped. In the delivery room, new lives are gently wiped down, wrapped up, and greeted with great joy. Victims emerging from the storms are treated the same way, I’m so glad.
Vulnerable and with no thought of their pride — that’s how babies and disaster victims arrive. We look at them both as deserving of our affection and care, with no expectations. For those brief moments — weeks, months, maybe even a year or two — we just love them and care for them until one day, BAM! We teach them to feel ashamed of needing our help and not being able to do it on their own. It’s a vicious circle: we don’t want to ask for help because we think it’s bad to need help but we want to offer help even though… you get the picture.
Khalil Gibran said, “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” Let’s work on being generous and losing a little pride.