Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The selfish helper

When I was in my early twenties I had many goals of different nature. From selfish ones to selfless ones, from short term goals to long term goals, easy to difficult, and from doable to unrealistic ones. One goal that was very close to my heart was to at some point in my life go to Iran, live in one of the poor and underprivileged villages and teach to young children in schools. I figured I could teach these children all I know about life, the world and possibilities. I wanted to give them hope, teach them to dream, show them their worth and possibly make a tiny little difference in their lives. I planned to go live among these young children, go to school with them and shower them with love. I had a goal to encourage them to learn, grow and to demand a better life. To show them that they are special, beautiful and wonderful beings who deserve great things in life. I wanted to make a difference.
Like every other goal that I had it seemed challenging but doable at the time. But then life happened. Marriage, responsibility, age and reality happened. My goal and dream of helping packed up and went up to the attic, collected dust and was eventually out of sight. Yet it never managed to go out of mind.
I still think about that goal and dream of mine. I think about what could have been, if I would have actually accomplished it and what it would have looked like. I day dream about the children's faces, their bright eyes when they look up at me listening to every word and absorbing every message. I picture the surroundings, the sounds and finally the remarkable satisfying feeling that I would have in my gut. I day dream...
Looking at how my life looks like now (husband, house, career), I feel that I will never be able to live out that dream and accomplish my goal. And by "never able to" I probably mean "chose not to give up what I have for others".
Therefore, I can not help but to wonder, are these so called selfless goals truly pure and have the true essence of giving, or is it to satisfy our own ego and desire to be good? Would we continue with our random acts of kindness and with helping others if that warm and satisfying feeling that we receive in return was taken away from us? Are we then filling up our quota of "being kind" to make ourselves feel good rather than to actually make the world a better place?
These are all good questions to ask, complex scenarios and fascinating, but what happened to my dream and to the goal? What happened to the children? It seems that the desire to help is still there, but is the price too high now? So if I was a single poor person here in America with nothing going for me, then maybe I would proceed with gracing the unfortunate children of Iran with my presense and assistance. I wonder if I would be granted the same amount of "credit" then as if I proceeded with the "dream" now.
Ultimately, just by thinking about it does not make you a good person. To do a good deed when it is convenient does not make you a good person. It is when you actually act on a good deed when it is difficult to do and no matter what the cost, that is when you will go into my book as one who I would admire.


sanaz said...

Never too late hon....so don't rule it out just yet...I know what you're saying, but I think regardless of the act being selfish or selfless (meaning convenient or not), it's the result and impact that ultimately counts...and as long as you're making a difference it's doing good :) and I say you are already doing it...

Anahita said...

Interesting...I've had a dream along those lines...Teaching in an engineering school in Iran. To motivate more women... "The thousand splended sunds" has made me think about this more than always...Not sure if it'll ever happen though. I do agree with you 100%: "To do a good deed when it is convenient does not make you a good person." Arranging luncheons for women at a private univeristy in CA doesn't make me a good person by any means. Working with women in a country run by Ahmadi Nejad though, is a different story.