A principle in life instilled in me ever since childhood was to make positive impacts in the world I live in. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, “If you want to leave your footprints on the sands of time, do not drag your feet.”
How do you want to be remembered in this world? Every one of us has a choice to make a positive impact in this world. It depends on us, how and when we choose to do it. The quote above, by Abdul Kalam, mentions making a history to leave our footprints behind, rather than being lazy, delaying the work and never getting to it. Being adults, the best way to teach our kids and the next generation is to have them see how we practice it. I’m certain that having our kids grow up seeing us do community work will have a very positive impact in their lives. What else can you ask as a parent from your children?
As quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I truly believe in that. I am blessed with a wonderful community here in Buffalo. Since 2003, I have noticed a need to establish and join the Islamic Society Sunday school board, where I actively participated and served as a vice-president. As years passed , I got more involved in the Islamic Society and soon I was elected to the Islamic Society executive board, where I took up various positions, including: Treasurer, Vice-President, and President. After the completion of my six year term, I now hold a position as a member of The Council of Trustees for Islamic Society.
In an effort to practice more of what I preach – I am also a Red Cross volunteer. Red Cross is a great organization that provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families, and entire communities get back on their feet. As President of the Islamic Society, I asked my community members to extend their time and talents not only to our community, but the community at large by participating with the Red Cross and other similar organizations. I thought to myself, Prophet Muhammad swt. practiced and then preached; I intended to follow his footsteps. I joined the Red Cross, knowing I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I thought the least I could do was join and bring in other friends from my community into the organization.
I always think to myself, ‘Never wait to take a positive action. If you have capacity and capability to do it yourself, then step up.’ Activities such as charity work, are not just for the retired community. At times, some people might think, “Right now I’m busy, and I have to pay this bill and that bill, but I will work with the charity groups or do volunteer work in the community when I have time.’
I strongly believe that when you are young, you can do the work quicker and faster even though you are busy. I am not saying that you have to give all your time; but just enough to spread the idea and have self-assurance. Yes, of course you need to spend time with family, but if you think that you can only do your bread-earning job and give time to the family, that is not fulfilling all the obligations of being in this world. We have to give back to society. I intently believe that we should give back as soon as we can…little do we know, today might be just a fact, but tomorrow it’s a given hope.
All in all, we need to maximize the time we have at hand. In reality, you will never have time. There will always be something that will disrupt you from doing what you need to do. As Quran mentions, if you do good then the reward can only be good.
Gratitude, I believe is the secret to happiness and satisfaction. How can anyone be miserable and unhappy in life when they remember the things they have been given? The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. We think the world owes us something when it doesn’t. In all reality, we owe something to the world and the people around us.
There is an interesting story of a boy who went to a restaurant to buy ice cream. When the waitress takes his order, the boy responded by saying, “What is the price of a big cone of ice cream?” The waitress replied “75 cents.” The boy then started counting all his pennies, dimes, and quarters. He finally asked the waitress, “What is the price of a small cone?” The waitress replied, “65 cents.” The boy took a few seconds and after some thought ordered a small cone. Meanwhile the restless waitress was very frustrated with the boy wasting her time. After the boy finished his ice cream, the waitress came and collected 75 cents. When the boy left the restaurant, the waitress noticed the boy left a 10 cent tip. The waitress was speechless and was moved with the act of the boy compromising the size of his ice cream to think about others.
It is a great lesson to learn from the boy’s action. We often think about ourselves first, then about our family, and then the community. I rather reverse it to say, first think about community, then family, and then yourself. When you think about community, it is not only others, but you and your family are also part of it.
The pleasure of giving back to the community is priceless. We don’t have to take huge action; but if more people participate and do little things it adds up. A healthy community is where we have more active community workers.
Find the type of work that gives you pleasure, maybe helping a child in need, or at a senior living facility, or at your local fire station. There are endless options, don’t you want to leave a legacy behind for the world to see and act upon? I sure know I do!