It has been reported that membership is down worldwide in service organizations. Service clubs such as Rotary and Pilot have seen a significant drop off in their membership in recent years. Both of these organizations are represented in The Bahamas, and even here membership has declined. With such a decline in serving and giving unselfishly to others, I can’t help but wonder what kind of giving spirit there will be displayed this Christmas.
In a few days millions of people, Christians and non-believers alike, will gather with family and friends to exchange gifts and good cheer. But how many people are giving for the joy of giving and not just out of a sense of obligation?
Some families have gotten to the point where they select names to purchase a gift for one person, rather than feeling stressed and financially burdened to purchase gifts for ten or more people in the family. What is the intention here? Are we buying gifts to represent how we feel about some one special person?
It makes one wonder if Christmas is the only time of the year when we can verbally and physically express our gratitude and love for what others have done for us the whole year through. Is this perhaps why so many people have dropped out of service clubs or declined the invitation to join? Have we been programmed into believing that we are only obliged to give but once a year?
In the film: “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” the humans were given a second chance at protecting the earth. The alien nations were prepared to destroy humans so that the earth could survive. It was their belief that the present lifestyle and choices of human beings was destroying the earth, so it was better for them to kill one species and main culprits, human beings, than millions of other species.
However, upon seeing first hand the complexity of the human species and their ability to love and care for each other, the human race was given a second chance. While this may be a science fiction movie, the reality is that we are destroying the earth and each other in the process. Yet, there are still a few who do understand the necessity of giving and do it much more than once a year.
The alien in this film was able to see the goodness in human beings and stop the total annihilation of the race, but how many of us are willing to do the same thing for each other? We cannot make much of a change once a year. We must be willing to do good unto to others as a part of our daily lives.
Many schools throughout the country have made it mandatory for their students to complete a certain number of community service hours. Students must present themselves to different organizations or institutions to do a good work without any monetary rewards in return.
Some schools require students to complete a specific amount of hours as a pre-requisite to graduate from high school and in some cases even primary school. The mere fact that a community service programme had to be implemented into schools is a sad statement of where we are in our humanity.
There was a time when one just knew it was the right thing to do to help an old lady carry some packages to her car or house. At one time a young man or woman knew it was the right thing to do to give up his/her seat for an older person.
Not too long ago it was an accepted fact that it was the right thing to share what you have when someone came by asking for food. There was even a time when people gave so freely that they didn’t realize they didn’t have that much themselves.
But alas that time of knowing instinctively when to do the right thing has past. We now need to schedule our gift giving and generosity. We have designated this time of bigheartedness and good cheer to fall on the same date each year – December 25th. Thus the days leading up to this date are filled with shoppers looking for last minute deals and merchants putting up the price on goods to be sold later at 20% off the ticket price. What a bargain!
A gift given from the heart does not bring stress, but rather delight. A gift given to someone whom you love should not break the bank, but rather bind you closer. A gift given just because you wanted to bring a smile to someone’s lips does not cost you anything but pure joy.
While we tend to wait until Christmas to concretize our feelings to others, we can do this throughout the year. With a new year approaching, make every effort to give more generously and serve others willingly. I’m sure you still remember how to do the right thing, give this gift to someone else this year so we can be a race of givers and not takers.
About the author: Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at