The Art of Living

In nature all organisms exist in a symbiotic relationship with others. Every species has their own role to play in their fight for survival. The human species have various duties to perform, individually and collectively, in the society. Some roles are divine, few are a necessity for survival, some are entrusted by the community and some others happen just like that. Yes! The latter one actually defines the value of a human being, which reflects through our attitudes. In our little or greater domains, we practice various roles at par with our stature, designation or expected behaviors. Amongst the many expressions we serve as a human, there is this minute part, which greatly defines us and adds to our character — it reflects greatly in the manners through which we contribute to our surroundings; it is the art of giving.
This art, surprisingly, is not exclusively inherited or learnt. It lies somewhere in the cognition of a person, partly learnt or may be polished through life as an inspiration. It is a beautiful demonstration of human unity despite racial and ethnic diversity, and has no parallel. It has many forms, so many ways, and too many outcomes – all positive and humane. This art is a reflection of God’s trust in His creation, to stand by, support, strive and move forward, no matter what the circumstances. It makes one learn about the reason of life – beyond one’s own self. It does not have any singular form. The art of giving lies in the intent with which a human being gives away a part of their money, time, knowledge or expertise. It makes humans learn the art of living for others. The art of giving adds value in the society and provides a support system that is cyclical. It not only makes life better but it also adds to goodness and quality of life in the society.
Giving at Individual Level
Giving away to others is the essence of human life, right from the cradle. The relationship between a mother and a child is such a beautiful example of giving away selflessly. The mother’s nurturing of her child, unconditionally striving for the well-being of her child and protecting him from all odds, is the simplest and greatest form of giving. The art of giving is in one worthy message spread by the teacher to her students, which changes their life forever. It is as simple as lending a helping hand to someone who is physically challenged while crossing the road. The art of giving exists in a smile, which travels across and transfers positive energy at the workplace. The art of giving is in a cup of tea presented to the driver who drives us back home, in the hustle and bustle of city life. It is beautifully represented sitting next to the elderly person, who shares his age-old anecdotes. This is as easy as sacrificing your time, and meeting a far-off friend in need. It can be as connecting as calling someone who needs company or by making a silent prayer for someone. This art is practiced without costing us a penny. A mother who raises successful children also adds tremendously to the country. We can master this art by giving without keeping scores, so that each act of kindness is a new one with a new start at our end. Active listening can make anyone responsive to the surrounding need and by virtue of attention to detail human beings can contribute to the society.
Giving at Community Level
Civic citizenship behaviors can be exercised on daily basis while being an active part in the community. It starts from participating in any community uplift programs like cleanliness campaigns, awareness campaigns and local self-help centers. Donating at the Masjid is a community service. Similarly, to care for an ailing neighbor is part of the kindness shared in the community. Blood donation is an essential form of giving away selflessly, which can save lives. Organ donation is being taken up as a form of community service world over, where ailing humanity can benefit from a human being for life. Arranging for an Iftari in Ramadan, be it for a neighbor or the security guard of the area, adds up to the civic sense. A public service message taken up at a community clinic can help bring positive change in human behavior at large. Setting up community service camps (by specialists or doctors) can help create awareness about an epidemic or help cure an illness. Sharing things with neighbors in time of need is a very fruitful expression exercised since long in Pakistani society. Adopting good gestures while greeting and meeting people is another art, which creates joy and a healthy atmosphere. To exercise the art one can start with something as little as lending a helping hand, giving a lift to someone on the way to help save other’s time and give good company. One form of knowledge sharing and skill development is imparting knitting, weaving, stitching or embroidery skills to the unemployed people, which can actually make a difference in their life. Donating a used book to the library or to a needy child extends goodness. Similarly, setting up a bench at a walkway under a tree can make up someone’s day on a hot summer afternoon. All these little forms of helping and giving in life should be made a habit by practicing them repeatedly.
Giving at National Level
One can also practice this art by collecting donations for a national cause. In times of earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities we have seen our people give generously, setting examples in history. In the aftermath of 2005 earthquake that hit the northern areas of Pakistan, huge sums of money were collected in charity for catering to the losses of the people who suffered greatly. People can give donations for building charity driven schools, hospitals and orphanages. Similarly, we as individuals can add to the cause of nation building by setting up local help centers at the community level. Based on our experience, expertise or skills, help centers can be a very effective group activity to cater to needs of the people at a smaller level.
Efforts at the level of an individual, can collectively have a greater impact. Carrying out our own profession honestly can make a difference and at the national level it adds to the country’s performance. Each one of us is a part of the larger system, and every single activity we carry out makes the culture of the community better. Doing all that is required of a person in professional domain, ethically and responsibly leads to value addition. The practice should be made a routine activity, so that everyone can be a part of a change that improves the society. 
Giving does not require a schedule, much effort or record keeping but the effect of this art is seen in the form of virtues we adopt over time by exhibiting helping behaviors. It shows positivity in the overall atmosphere in the community. The attitude of citizens towards fellow beings shows the character of a nation. If our nation, on the whole, can adopt the art of giving, we can succeed by leaps and bounds and this will reduce dependency on national institutions and state agencies, and work as a force to trigger change and positivity in the society as a whole. HH

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