Sometimes it can be overwhelming to watch the news and see the constant disasters and tragedies occurring worldwide. So overwhelming in fact, that it wouldn’t be unreasonable for us to wonder, as we sometimes do, to what degree it is our responsibility to help. In addition, society today is increasingly fractured and divided, with people split across fiercely defended lines, when it comes to society, politics and religion.
Is giving to those in need simply a good deed, or is it rather a moral imperative and responsibility?
Ultimately none of us exist in a vacuum. Any success we have is built on the back of others. We have worked hard for anything we’ve gained, but ultimately our education depended on others. Our health depends on others. Our upbringing depended on others. We stood on the shoulders of others when we were in positions of relative weakness, and now we’re in a position of relative strength, it is absolutely our moral duty to pay it forward and help others; just as others paid it forward to help us.
It was John Bradford in the sixteenth century who said when he saw a group of condemned men on their way to be executed; ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ but this is as true today as ever. Many of those who are now in need once lived comfortable lives – more comfortable than ours! They may have once been healthy, but then fell sick. Or they may once have been wealthy, but then ended up penniless.
We cannot guarantee our future material success or health, despite how much we may work and plan for it. We can strive as hard as we are able, but ultimately there are and will always be variables that are not in our hands – that may one day mean we too are in need of the help of others.
Ultimately, which society would you rather be a part of? It may be idealistic, but imagine a society where everyone feels like one body. When one organ hurts, the others are also affected. If your hand hurts, your brain can’t and doesn’t ignore it. If we see others in need, suffering, elsewhere, to feel that as acutely as if it were happening on our doorstep, to fully understand our responsibilities, and to truly help those in need.