by Marc Hardy, PhD
Giving Another the Shirt Off Your Back Only Leaves YOU Without a Shirt
There is a culture among some of my friends and family to give almost everything they have to others in need. Of course, that leaves the givers without anything, which creates exactly the condition for themselves that they were trying to relieve. Part of this culture also includes a sort of tribal tradition that those the giver gave his or her shirt to should do the same for the giver when the giver is in crises. So when the receiver reciprocates, he or she in turn drain their resources and are right back in the same predicament. The only thing that all of this accomplishes is keeping all parties in a constant state of neediness, which again defeats the purpose of sharing our fire with others to help them create a better life. Even if you have a shirt to give, if it’s your only shirt, keep it and help them figure out a way to obtain their own shirt. Not only will you be better off, but they will have learned how to be more self-sufficient and help themselves.
Some may feel that all of the 5 points I have shared about self-sacrifice for others are insensitive and heartless. But that is true only if you think that doing good for others also includes becoming a martyr or a tragic Greek hero. Sharing fire is about helping others create a better life and future. It is about a joint effort to help the receiver rise to a new level of living and enlightenment. It is not about laying down our life for others, but in extending a hand to them when they need to be lifted up when they have fallen. But they must take the hand we offer and use it to help themselves stand once again and move forward.