30 Nov Beyond Thanksgiving: The ACT of Giving
I am habitually thankful for the food on my table, the money in my pocket, the physical capabilities that I maintain, the mental health required for making my decisions, my family members’ aptitude for prosperity, and most importantly for our self-sufficiency to support ourselves and others …. Actually I am not just thankful, I am at awe with all the blessings that the universe has provided us with. I am grateful for our potential in maintaining compassionate connection to others; for our ability to create peace and security. I also appreciate how we can be present to so much goodness in this world and enjoy the abundance of love in our lives, yet my heart sinks low in my chest as I look beyond my personal life. When I observe the disastrous brutality that some people enforce on others, the lack of respect or value for other human lives, and the egotistic views that divide us, I feel sad and disheartened.
As the king of all species, the human race is greatly proud of all the material achievements it has made through its relatively short life on earth; but, how can we be proud of what our race is doing to one another’s body and mind? Besides ants, humans are the only other species that carry out wars and enslave their own kind; with the difference that we are much more intelligent than ants. September 11 th was a huge reminder of human’s ability to be destructive, careless, vengeful, and rootless…. Now, the savagery of the killings in Paris and Mali once again has reminded us of the incredible brutality that we are capable of. I often wonder if humanity is at its maximum potential or it is possible to rise beyond our self-defeating patterns. Are we like other animals destined to be limited in our biological codes, or we can ever collectively reach the united force of love? If we do have the potential for realization of a spiritual unity, then how do we expect to get to peaceful resolutions by waging wars and fighting against fighting? How more violent action, like bombing Syrian villages, can be a solution for stopping violence permanently?
Like me, millions of people are dreaming of a day that we can all live in peace and harmony. That is why the UN was created: to maintain international peace and security in a world where security threats had become more complex. However, regardless of its intentions, many governments have adhered to their positions of power and the pursuit of political and material gains. Most countries are still very far away from reaching a worldwide peaceful consensus, so the prospects of unity are further falling apart. As a matter of fact, nowadays keeping peace has become increasingly distorted as criminals and hostile groups of peace spoilers, the extremists with radical strategies, and the religious fanatics with inhumane tactics have infiltrated our civilizations and restricted our freedoms. Then, how will the UN or any other body of well-wishers ever be able to create peace and a sense of security? For sure we can neither do it by returning fire with fire, nor by ignoring what is going on and carrying on with our sweet personal lives.
It is hard to cultivate compassion and understanding when you are under attack or fearful for your future’s safety, but the only option for changing the dynamics of violence is applying care and acting with kindness. By ignoring the reasons for despair and lacking sensitivity towards the afflicted, we ignite more frustration and rage; without empathy and thoughtfulness prospects of peace will just get worse. Ideological divisions in our own country, acting against each other by hateful remarks and discriminating vengeance cannot make us the beacons of peace. We have become so consumed by our needs that we do not have any desire to relate to the unmet needs of others. Even as immigrants who have found opportunities in this land of freedom, we are not willing to accept other immigrants in our borders. The opponents of accepting refugees, subsidized social benefits, and leniency towards the challenges of the needy are constantly fear-mongering among the different layers of our social fibers. That is how a man who is not able to provide comfort for his family, who feels small and inadequate, who loses his dignity, and has his back against the wall gets bitter and eventually acts out by violence. Holding on to resentment and anger sometimes results in blowing up self and others in a holy war!
With all the money and the vast resources that are provided for defending our borders against our enemies we have not yet been able to generate an everlasting peace. We are mostly content with watching our sports events and TV shows, going to our bars and being entertained at our parties, indulging and resting our bodies, or generally having our “fixes” uninterrupted; so, we do not have time to pay much attention to the needs of others. How can we reach unity and love without paying attention to others’ needs? On a day like Thanksgiving, as we are content with providing festive tables for family and friends, even for some poor people on skid-row, are we able to provide social, financial, and cultural values for our presumed enemies as well? As groups like ISIS and Al-Qaida gain power by focusing on social lacks and unmet needs of their populations, wouldn’t it be better to counter them by meeting the needs of their followers instead of fighting?
The unleashed power of fundamentalism can be potentially harnessed by generating health, education, prosperity, food, stability, and attention. Violence is often a cry for help and attention, but we keep on missing that message. Since we are afraid of rootless threats and impatiently in need of our own “fixes”, we regularly choose to marginalize the aggressor and attempt to break them down prior to hearing what they need. Unfortunately that has never worked and will further escalate the fights. It will be less expensive to give a little and support the needy rather than holding on to forceful measures or punishments. At a fraction of the costs of military or vengeful reactions, we may choose to build infrastructures, hospitals, schools, jobs, and valuable communities all over the world. We can promote social health, justice, and success. Although I may be a naïve believer in compassion and empathy as substitutes for animosity and isolation, I have no doubt that without kindness and care we can never reach any enduring peace. If you believe in human ability to be merciful and considerate, together we can eliminate punitive and hostile reactions. Giving is the key that opens every heart; let’s connect heart to heart and give more than thanks this year. Let’s be charitable and forgiving. We can go beyond Thanksgiving and practice the ACT of GIVING.
Dr. Sadigh is the co-founder of All-In Health Foundation a Non-Profit organization dedicated to educating, supporting, and healing through pursuit of balance in day-to-day life. Visit AlIInHealthfoundation.org and join this movement.
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