Good Deeds, Long Forgotten
Not the Ends, but the Means
Helping others and performing unprompted kindnesses is nothing new. These behaviors are as old as time itself and has been the subject of study for many centuries. The topic of supernatural forces even enters into this fold: Islamic scholars suggest at least two angels are assigned to each person in all parts of the world. One angel records the person’s good deeds, while the other records the bad.
Whether or not this is true isn’t the point; the real issue here is the concept that performing good deeds nourishes the soul and helps mankind. Many of us disregard this as a burden and never bother to recover it. We should hope that, if two angels do follow each of us, one of them frequently forgets pen and paper and can't record our true activities. The bad – which includes swearing, cutting off other drivers, calling names, and a laundry-list of other poor choices in which we constantly engage – would probably outnumber the good by quite a bit.
Luster is sometimes attached to a good deed so that setting out to perform one seems like an admirable undertaking. But a good deed is not a goal one can hope to accomplish; it’s more a way of living, as in choosing to do “right” instead of “wrong.” After people figure this out – and realize they must devote time and energy to it – they usually begin to question if doing good is really important. From that most remote speck of doubt springs justification for choosing to not do “good” when it doesn’t fit with the day’s agenda.
There's living; Then There's LIVING
In childhood, few people hope to become single-minded with or exhausted by life. Yet this seems to happen to most of us. We have to work hard – really hard – to advance our careers and find happiness. Not to mention pay the car note, mortgage, credit card payment, and bank loan. All of this debt is necessary to pay for everything we need, and we need a lot. Televisions, books, movies, computers, smartphones, kitchen utensils, bedding, home furnishings, toiletries, vacations, clothes, shoes, accessories, collectibles. But the material has distracted us from the meaningful. Good deeds don’t have space in our lives because we’re too busy filling that space with time and money. We are a society driven by consumerism, and our desires for material possessions and vacations come first and foremost. Taking ourselves away from personal pursuits would mean losing money and/or time, neither of which should be squandered.
Little do people know that personal possessions do not bring happiness. It sounds trite, but it’s true. Countless individuals can’t even keep track of everything they own – much less enjoy it – because they have so much. And still people want more, an endless pursuit that will never exhaust itself because the more you have, the more you want.
Working harder just to accumulate more isn’t living - it’s merely existing. Helping others and performing good deeds lends a sense of fulfillment that cannot be duplicated by money. This is not to say we should all live as paupers, but remembering to make time for each other and those in need is far more important than shopping for another new car.