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the “give” resolution mind over matter

“Send them your heart so they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stones to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving
Theres a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
its true we'll make a better day
Just you and me”

- We are the world, USA for Africa

Every New Year is time for flamboyant parties, for half-eaten fifth helpings of turkey fillets and roast potatoes, and for resolutions that gather dust. There are hearty conversations. There are uproarious rolls of laughter at crude jokes. There are those oh-so-short thirty minutes that are not enough to pick out a dress tie or a bracelet. The mind goes completely blank, and we blame the Almighty for dumping such voluminous load on us. Then we blame Him further for not paying heed to our “Why? Why? Why?” monologues.

Yet how often do we stop for a moment, how often do we take a break from our over-the-top schedules, and think? Do we let the possibility dawn in us that there are those who might have lesser assets and greater misery than ourselves? Possibly? But sometimes “possibly” is not good enough. There are those emaciated figures that haunt the streets and back alleys, shivering in the January wind and having only a few rags to their names. There are those whose feet score with blisters from manoeuvring rickshaw pedals all day. Yes, this way or that, all of us have our very own personalised problems, custom-tailored for the individuals that we are. But it is also a virtue to look beyond all that. Perhaps that is why God does not listen.

Here in Star Lifestyle, week after week pages after pages have been devoted to the lifestyles of the elite and the diva-esque. Nonetheless, as an instrument of the media, there is a social responsibility to look at both sides of the coin and offer it to the readers to judge for themselves. So we would like to begin this year with flair and joy- but that of a different kind- that of giving and being a part of the change.

In this regard, charity plays an essential role. Contrary to the somewhat dramatic introduction, most of us do want to help. The problem, however, lies in not knowing how.

It's time to lend a hand… the greatest gift of all
Start with a resolution and more importantly, stick to it! We all have the tendency to draw up hollow resolutions that are as fake as a politician's promise. This time around, give with the mind frame to give (or in simpler terms, with an open heart). If this is the case, the chances are higher that you will stick to it. The first grid should be to start with broad resolution of “give more”, and then break it down to more specific goals (i.e., how you want to go about “giving”, which individual or group of people you want to benefit, etc.). Assuming that you write it down on a piece of paper, make a point to keep it somewhere where you can see it everyday. People tend to prefer their diaries or pin-up boards or even having it propped up on their study desks. But the choice is yours.

Give it to me baby… Aha! Aha!
Broadly speaking, there are two major means of giving to charity. Many like to channel their resources (be it money or clothing items or the likes) through organisations involved in the relevant cause. Again, your choice of organisation will depend upon how you draft your resolution- ask yourself who you want to donate to; if, for instance, you would like to benefit the victims of a particular natural disaster, check whether the organisation works for the particular cause.

Alternatively, if you have good personal organisation skills, you may not want to donate through an institution, but put your skills to some use. Take a morning off to go through your closet and sort out all the old clothes, shoes, blankets and toys. It would be helpful to keep cartons handy in the process. Label them according to contents, and where necessary, close them with duct tapes, before distributing to orphanages, old homes, etc.

In many of the previous issues, Star Lifestyle has endorsed the concept of “constructive charity”. The purpose is to discourage one-off giving that could only benefit the recipient in the short run. Hence, almsgiving is not recommended, as it is an easy way to make money and encourages people to slack off from work. The essence of constructive charity is to establish a chain reaction of benefits for the long run; for instance, you could buy a rickshaw puller a rickshaw or sponsor an underprivileged child's education.

It would also provide an additional thrust if you could get your friends involved. Pooling together funds and donation materials (such as clothes) helps create larger “give” projects. Furthermore, giving together is somewhat like gymming together- the enthusiasm of one person helps the other, and makes way for a greater collective output.

In the end, this is a new year and it is up to us to make the most of it, and to make the most of ourselves. Giving with an open heart is not a difficult thing to do. Coming to think of it, it is rather like sharing. This year, put your mind to it… and soon enough you will create magic, even if it is by making someone smile. This year, put a stop on the pathos of “Why? Why? Why?”… and perhaps this time, God will take off His earplugs.

Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayeed
By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky


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