Recently, we celebrated international peace day. I reflected upon it as we meditated. What did it mean for me?
Where would I start to make a dent? The chaos, wars and hate that envelops this world seems so overwhelming – any effort seems like a drop in the ocean, too little to mean anything.
That was my thought till I drove my son to school this morning.
As he looked out the window, ear phones plugged in, texting at the same time; he smiled and turned to me. “I bought that homeless man breakfast yesterday at Tim Horton’s” he said pointing to a man on the street. “I went in to get something for myself but I saw him and bought him breakfast instead. He is a good man. I talk to him sometimes”.
I am proud of my boy for many reasons but his acceptance of people regardless of their station in life, colour or imperfections is why I look up to him.
He had unknowingly answered my question.
Peace comes with acceptance, generosity of spirit, kindness and compassion. It is a hard practice sometimes but
extremely rewarding. It is a legacy you leave for your children and the world. Let me explain.
As a young girl growing in India’s middle class very diverse population, my parents taught us about generosity, acceptance and compassion. My parents taught us to accept people and their beliefs. We were raised catholic but we were encouraged to participate in the Hindu festivities of Holi ( the festival of colour), Diwali ( the festival of lights) and Eid (the Islamic festival marking the end of Ramadan) celebrated by our Muslim friends. My visits with neighbours to Hindu and Sikh temples were adventures that opened up my curious nature. While some of their beliefs did not make sense to me, we were taught to respect them.
Every Christmas and Easter, my sisters, cousins and friends would walk down to the “Home for the Aged”. This was a place that was run by the nuns who would bring the homeless elderly off the street and care for them.
It always struck me how happy these people were to see us and accept little pieces of candy or home baked goodies. They would smile their toothless smiles, laugh heartily and applaud as we performed plays or sang for them. My young mind found it hard to comprehend that this little interaction meant so much to them. I always held on to that feeling of euphoria that enveloped me as we walked home, knowing I had done something good, changed something for someone, even if it was for a little while. That was my parent’s legacy to me.
Fast forward decades later, as a mother, I would often buy my children a $5.00 Tim Horton’s gift card and ask them to give it to someone they thought needed it. It was my effort to pass on that feeling of doing good for someone else, accepting that person’s circumstances without judgement and offering something to them knowing that they may never see the person again. That is my legacy to my children. I know that the seed I planted has taken root and is growing as my children grow. The world will be a better place because of the practices we imbibe, nurture and teach.
Did you practice a little generosity, compassion and acceptance today?