Helping Others

I’m reading a book (which will appear in my reviews!) that is focused on the conceptual mistakes we  make when it comes to taking care of our planet and our fellow humans. This, combined with my recent decision to reach out locally and provide labor in some sort of outreach, has led me to think a lot about helping others. I am so very proud that both of my adult children volunteer and help in their communities. From planting trees, sponsoring Oakland youth in horseback riding programs (and internships for older students) to designing a hands on model to teach International Space Station Trajectory to visually impaired and blind students, my children are creative in their efforts.

Years ago I worked with a local agency to mentor teenage girls. What I learned during that time was that the picture in your mind of what you will do often doesn’t match the reality of situation. I was discouraged at the time, but looking back with my older, wiser self, I realize the lesson here. It can’t be about me. I can’t reach out for the glamour or even the good feeling inside helping someone might produce.

The giving must be without strings attached. Sure, you can feel good when you help someone, I’m not saying that. But that can’t be the REASON you are helping. The reason should be that all of humankind feels biologically that to sustain the species we must reach out. Just as animal behavior keeps a balance in nature, so must we be in balance. If we destroy our “territory” (by overgrazing, or eating all the field mice, or letting our pack members die, to give an animal example) there is no new territory for us to move on to inhabit. (I guess that’s why we are trying to go to Mars?)

I’m going to continue to explore my community for these opportunities and share them with you. Consider what you are doing and I hope you reach out, whatever your motivation.