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February 23rd, 2018

Doing unto Others

By G. E. Shuman

There is a small favor, sort of, that I like to do for some of my neighbors this time of year. I’m not going to mention what it is specifically, as that thing that I do is not the real point here.

The point is, as I mentioned, that I ‘like’ to do this particular thing. It gives me pleasure to help them out in this way. I can’t say that this pleasure is more than if someone gave me a lot of money or did something else ‘big’ in my life, but it is pleasure worth mentioning. It’s sort of a pleasure somewhere between that of receiving a coffee shop gift card from someone, and of finding a one-hundred-dollar bill on the sidewalk.  And it’s actually a different thing than what those pleasures would be; it’s better, somehow. Yes, it’s even better than the hundred-dollar bill. Helping someone, even if only a little, gives you more of a ‘warm’ feeling than one of being more or less happy to be on the receiving end of a gift.  That’s the idea of the old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive.”

The admonition to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” is not just some command to help other people out. To me, it’s an actual secret to happiness. It adds a lot to a person’s, to the giver’s internal contentment. At least, it’s been proven to be that for me.

My memory of things that happened to me as a child seems much better than of things that happened yesterday, somehow. One of those old memories is of a short conversation I once had with my dad.  Dad was always doing things for other people, it seemed. My parents had six children, and all of us were a challenge in one way or another. Then, when the older kids became young adults and started getting married, the challenges for my mom and dad only increased, I’m sure. Grandkids started coming along and it seemed that both of my parents were busy all the time, helping someone. My Mom still is about that task. She will be 94 in a few days and still visits the nursing home to help “the old people.”  (Her words.)

As I remember it, the conversation with Dad took place one summer day, as he and I were walking up the hill of our old homestead’s back lawn, toward the garden. I was asking Dad some question that I don’t remember now at all, regarding whether I should do something that someone else had asked me to do. His nearly immediate reply was simply this: “If you can do something for someone… do it.” There was no hesitation or explanation in his immensely wise remark, and it was one that I think I will always remember.

People who receive a small favor, a small gift, or an immense fortune from someone else are blessed by the thing that they receive. People who are on the giving end, the ‘doing unto others’ side of the deal, are blessed even more, and in a much more profound way.  Thanks for cluing me in on this Mom and Dad.

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