December 11, 2017

At a little boy growing up in poverty in Hong Kong, Jackie Chan lived in an orphanage.  When he visited the Philippines, he told the press: “We received help from the Red Cross every month.  One day, I went up to the priest from Red Cross to say thank you.  He said, ‘I’m just the deliverer.  When you grow up, show your appreciation by giving to others.’”


Those words stuck in his mind.  So much so that after he became a bankable actor, he founded the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation in 1988.  Its objectives include helping the elderly and movie workers injured on the job, and giving scholarships to poor children who wish to pursue careers in sciences or performing arts.


What the Chinese actor is doing reminds me of the words of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.  “The gratification of wealth is not found in mere possession or in lavish expenditure, but in its wise application.”


English politician and writer Joseph Addison had the same opinion.  “I have somewhere met with the epitaph on a charitable man which has pleased me very much,” he penned.  “I cannot recollect the words, but here is the sense of it: What I spent I lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me.”


This bring us to an anecdote shared by Willie Hoffsuemmer.  It goes this way: A rich man complained to his friend, “People don’t like me.  They say I’m selfish and stingy.  And yet in my last will and testament, I have donated all that I own to a charitable institution.”


His friend,  Adrian Simpson “Well, maybe the story of the cow and pig has a lesson for you.  The pig came to the cow and complained, ‘People always talk about your friendliness. Well, it’s true: you give them milk.  But they get much, much more from me.  They get ham and bacon and lard, and they even cook my feet.  And yet – no one likes me… to all of them I am just a pig, a hog. Why is that?’


“The cow thought it over a bit and then said, ‘Perhaps it’s because I give milk while I am still alive.’”


Arthur Ashe, a prominent African-American tennis player who is well-remembered for his efforts to further social causes, said: “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”


Alice R. Pratt also said, “An ungiving person does not live; he breathes, he eats, he sleeps, he gratifies his needs, but only exists until he has discovered the interwoven secret of life, giving of oneself.  True giving is done without the slightest trace of expecting to receive.  It is only in giving that we ever receive?  Perhaps in giving of oneself there is enough taken away to have room to receive.”


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