Here’s a little ethical word problem for you:
Asha has (2) gargantuan-sized sandwiches that she can’t eat all by herself. Billy has NO sandwiches. Zero. Nada. Nothing. On top of this, Billy is hungry and - for whatever reason - whoever was handing out these monstrously huge sandwiches, decided to skip him. So Asha, who - for some reason - was so lucky as to not be given one, but TWO (very large, jumbo sized) sandwiches sits beside Billy who has none. Now Billy feels even worse because the smell of the sandwich is making him hungrier. In seeing and hearing about Billy’s discomfort, Asha begins to feel bad as well.
What is the best course of action to be taken to make both Billy and Asha feel better?
A) - Asha explains to Billy that she feels really bad about what happened, but that she worked really hard for the excess sandwich and it’s not her fault that Billy didn’t get one.
B) - Asha goes very far away from Billy so that she will no longer have to witness Billy’s hunger.
C) - Asha gives Billy her extra sandwich.
D) - Asha rejects her sandwich privilege and throws both sandwiches in the trash as an act of solidarity with Billy.
I’m pretty sure that what’s being implied by this question is pretty easy to understand. Asha is in a position to be able to help Billy. If she gives Billy her extra sandwich, she can make him happy and she would also be happy. Long story short, the answer to the question is giving. Ironically, that's the answer to many of the world's biggest questions.
MEDITATION FOSTERS EMPATHY
Practicing meditation helps us to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude." In quieting our minds and deep breathing, we recognize the abundance of the universe and acknowledge the things that we are thankful for. By doing this, we can avoid taking our gifts for granted, we can grow our empathy muscles and we can be in a position to be a blessing to others without feeling that we are losing anything.
So first things first, being in a position to be able to help others, starts with acknowledging that we are in a position to help others. As mentioned, this starts with gratitude for our privilege. Yes, I said it! Gratitude. For. PRIVILEGE.
Privilege - the four letter word that’s actually 9 letters but you wouldn’t know it the way people squirm and cringe when they hear it. Go ahead and tell someone that they're privileged. Then proceed to watch how they look for (and find) every single horrible, debilitating thing that’s gone wrong (or going wrong) in their lives. People hide from privilege like it’s the plague, when in actuality, we ALL have some variation of privilege compared to other human beings. It’s all relative. Additionally, privilege is a wonderful thing when put into perspective and used the right way.
To refer back to the example: If Asha hates her privilege so much that she rejects it and throws both of her sandwiches into the trash, this would be an obvious waste of an opportunity, wouldn't it? It stands to say that rather than reject our privilege we should look for ways to share it with those who do not have it.
Additionally, if instead of sharing our excess with others we chastise them, this is also a waste of time. Most of us have been down on our luck at some point and the last thing we needed in those moments was a 'good talking to.' Either help or move out of the way so that someone else can help.
GIVING IS A PRIVILEGE IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
Just ask any parent. Giving, in itself, is a beautiful gift because it floods the giver with endorphins - look it up. As we all know, endorphins make you feel good and the person getting the gift feels good as well. It's like everybody's swimming in a pool of good feelings.
On top of making us happy, giving can be linked to better health. It can promote social connection and cooperation. Additionally, it's contagious and leads to more giving.
So this month, we encourage you to give to your heart's content and trust that the universe has you covered. Meditate on your gratitude and seek ways that you can be a blessing to others. Start a chain of "passing it forward." There is literally no down side.