This morning has been a very rare occasion.
There I was sipping my cappuccino in McDonald's, with a paperback in the other hand, letting time just slip by. Catching just the right amount of the elusive British sun from the window in the gorgeously comfortable 16'C weather, and a hint of chatter from the other patrons accompanying as background noise. Might I say, the background noise was ideal, no kids because it's a weekday and they're in school, not too loud as most people are at work. I have never felt so relaxed and carefree for a long while.
Although I was expecting a phone call from the garage for when my car has finished its MOT, I pretty much have the next hour to blissfully waste away.
My engrossment in the book was suddenly interrupted by a McDonald's staff. In short, she was advertising a £1 raffle to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and the winner stands to win an enormous "I LOVE DAD" hamper. I told her, my dad is not around here, but I'm happy to contribute anyway. She gave me a sheet to fill my name and contact details next to a number, I was quite pleased to write next to my favourite No.2, which has not been claimed yet. She also made a point to clarify that my contact details will not to passed to any third party, along with all those standard disclaimers, to which I just said "Don't worry about it, I trust you". A subtle wash of relief took over in her face, as I watch her relax and explain that many customers prior to myself had wanted to know that information which is why she is doing it.
As she left, I took a quick glance on my phone - 10.55am. My car must be ready any time now. I polished off what's left of my now barely warm beverage, bookmark my book, and released myself into cool breeze and sun cocktail of a weather on the walk back towards the garage.
The walk was brief. With no other distractions but walking, I set myself to autopilot and reflected:
If I had been approached in the same manner 5 years ago, I would have politely given her an excuse to not participate. While it's not pretty to admit, that was the person that I was. Not because I wasn't kind. Simply because I would have thought too much.
Maybe it was the culture that I grew up in, or even the unofficial education that I've had through the years. Maybe it was the scandals I've read in the news, or even just observing other people who have behaved similarly. The idea was, people just do not approach you for no good reason, they are always after something. However, "Charity", was not recognized as a valid reason because it does not translate to any personal gain on the pursuer's part. Thus, I should be more guarded because the actual motive is being deliberately concealed. If there is something to be hidden, it must not be good. Many in society believed that charities are scams, and that they often fail to make a difference anyway, and are therefore branded as a waste of time, effort and resources.
If I don't already trust this person, why should I surrender my money, name, or contact details to him. To outsmart his unknown scheme, I should be considered wise to prevent his endeavors from bearing fruit.
What a load of rubbish this is to me now.
I have learnt a valuable lesson in life - TRUST.
I believe that I should make a difference to this world. No matter how big or small the effort is, it's a social responsibility. I believe that if I try, I will somehow make a difference. No matter how big or small the difference is, there will be a difference. If I am incapable of putting myself out there doing all the hard work, I should TRUST the organizations that actually does go out there and do all the dirty work.
I TRUST in kindness.
I give to organizations that I believe are capable of delivering their end of the bargain. I give sensibly according to my own means, not extravagantly. I do not give blindly, especially to beggars. I believe that if one is able, and have an excess, it is more worthwhile to be contributed to help make someone's life better, than splurging on a luxury object that holds no moral value.
I BELIEVE in giving, more than receiving.
I give away part of my income monthly to an organization of my choice, because I earn enough to live on. I will put on a funny headband for a days work to help raise money for British Heart Foundation. But how many young people these days are actually willing to part with their money for people who are less fortunate? Let alone on a regular basis. Many lament that its never enough for them, they always want more. Giving away a part of their personal wealth is simply antagonizing their mission to hoard more. Other come up with various excuses about protecting their information, and preventing scammers from making a profit. That disappoints and saddens me that despite years of evolution and civilization, greed remains unchanged, deeply etched within society in one form or the other. Even if its not greed, fellow human beings simply judge someone they don't know much about - as someone they can't trust.
I am terribly frustrated. If the society carried on doubting, and scrutinizing everything that is trying to do good, that will perhaps be the end of kindness. To be kind, one first needs to trust. I have seen and experience so much kindness, I know it is worth it. I only hope others will believe in it too. And for those who is like the old me, eventually shake off the stigmas, and embrace a new kind of trust.