It is not that the youth weren’t involved in charitable activities otherwise. But it is the first time that the Youth decided to celebrate the Day of Youth Apostolate with a difference. Rather than making it just a celebration where the youth get together and learn about being apostolic, it was a time to soil their hands in the real job. Because discussing how to go about a task is easier than doing it in person. It is also not about feeling pity for those who do not have the necessities of life but about creating a sense of love and concern for the other i.e. our neighbour. These simple yet profound acts drive us closer to being considerate about the needs and requirements of those who have them not.
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Learning-by-doing should become constant. We always complain that the youth do not turn up for such activities but the genuine ones always will. The start is always poor but the finish will be extravagant. You notice the youth turn up for parties in more numbers in comparison to activities such as these. That is because we have trained our youth to celebrate and hardly given importance to be considerate. Most of us learn by doing and that is the most fruitful thing to do. More than just a collection of money what must be encouraged is giving from the abundance that one has because that is where one realizes the joy in giving. You have what you like and love the most. You do not want to part away from it.
But compassion forces you to go ahead and get dirty for the sake of the other. As Yasmin Mogahed a specialist in spirituality says, “Compassion is to look beyond your own pain, to see the pain of others.” It is easier to speak and generalize from afar. It is easier to complain about. But it takes effort to come forward and literally lift that sack of rice or sugar or potatoes, whatever. Our Lord and master teaches us to be enthusiastic towards our neighbour considering him or her to be a prospect who needs our love and care. When one is compassionate you feel for the other and you walk the extra mile and offer the needed assistance. So you are not complacent but become proactive and contribute in a way beneficial towards the other. Dalai Lama said, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Empathy is another virtue that is sensitized during such activities. “Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world,” said Barack Obama. And empathy by itself creates other virtues to flow from it. Empathy makes you think creatively and provide for the identified needs and requirements of the other. When you and I are empathetic the other person feels safe for that moment and in a long run gains the confidence that is needed. Collaboration becomes easy and one can negotiate certain aspects of life for the sake of the greater good. Empathy could also mean to understand the other like Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”
Human beings like to have an emotional connection with the other. So doing the activity of grocery collection and giving it to those in need must also complement with being connected with them emotionally or else the contribution will make no sense at all. It would then be considered as just a pity that you feel and you offer. Perhaps your emotional connect with them will empower them and that would be of more help than just a mere contribution of required necessities.
It is sad that our youth need occasions such as these to make a contribution to the wellbeing of those who are deprived and marginalized. But it is nevertheless a spark that should last long in the young hearts. Alan Alexander Milne an English author said, “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” The youth must understand this and take the leap of faith and dive into social activities that bring out a change in the village, state, and the country at large. Every effort counts and this grocery collection drive too will be remembered for years to come for its apostolic outlook.
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