I read a great Gandhi quote – and great reminder – yesterday that said:
To believe in something and not to live it is dishonest.
I remember replying to a friend’s post on Twitter a couple months back. The post said something to the effect of, “I went out of my way to hold a door for somebody, and didn’t get a thank you. Should I be annoyed by this?” Although I could empathize, my response was an absolute no. And the reason is that he wasn’t holding the door for a “thank you.” He was holding the door because it was the right thing to do.
We sometimes get caught up in social graces, and the responses and reactions that we think people owe us. We don’t do things for others, in exchange for emotional currency validation. Sure it’s nice! But it’s not the motive, and it’s not the agenda. We do for others, because it’s the right thing to do. I know I’m guilty of it. When I’m driving and I let somebody over, it annoys me sometimes when they do not have the common courtesy to say thank you. It’s a pet peeve of mine. After all, I say it – sometimes even when the other driver doesn’t technically LET me in! But I have to remind myself that I didn’t let that person in for a thank you, just like my friend didn’t hold the door for a thank you. I let them in because THAT is common courtesy. And, while I’m still getting better, I have to remind myself that if it’s something I believe, I have to live it.
Gandhi’s words also remind me of a more recent time this summer. I was out one night after a game, and there was a gentleman associated (not a player) with the other team that was far less than sober. I tried to assist, but was getting nowhere. At some point, my natural instinct kicked in and I thought to myself, “This is a grown man. His friends are still here, and I’m not a babysitter.” It’s tough to be patient with people that we perceive (correctly or incorrectly) as having played an active role in their own misfortune. I was speaking later with one of my teammates, who did eventually spent a considerable amount of time helping him. I asked him why he spent the time and effort, and he essentially said, “I remember you telling me just keep doing the right thing, because people will take note of it, and you never know how it will come back to you down the road.”
Right there on the spot, I was checked. I’d been caught up in my own thoughts, rather than in what I could do to help somebody else. And in doing so, I was untrue to my own belief system. Do for others because you’re not so selfish that you cannot be inconvenienced. Do for others because at some point, somebody has certainly done for you. Do for others, because you believe in it.