Give Back

-Andy O’Brien, Assistant Editor

If you are reading this, you are blessed.

No, I’m not that self-righteous.

Whether you’re perusing our website or paging through a hard copy of the collegian, you have been given an incredible life and you have so much to be grateful for.

Education to the point of literacy is blessing enough to warrant a thousand thank-you notes.

So what should we, the fortunate, do? Praise God?

Of course. Take time every day to appreciate your awesome life and tip your hat to the deity upstairs who makes it all happen.

While you ruminate on your general unworthiness it may occur to you that there are others who don’t have the same things.

I don’t intend to burden you with guilt. But you should feel bad.

The best way to actualize your gratitude is by giving back.

You can decide how (or if) you want to reciprocate your good fortunes. You don’t have to be a missionary in Africa to pay it forward, but you should contribute more to society than the seven percent sales tax.

There are so many places to make yourself useful. The Jackson metro area is full of opportunity. Volunteer to tutor some children, and while you help them with their academics, you can also be a positive influence. Visit a retirement home or hospice and brighten the days of those who may not have many left.

Giving back doesn’t necessarily mean being a martyr for social justice or regularly shelving books at the library. In your everyday life, be the best friend that you can be to those that you care about. Really listen when they talk to you. Call your mom and tell her about your life, because she misses you. Write a letter to your grandparents, and they will read it and reread it, smiling every time. Take someone’s tray in the caf.

Everyone has negativity in their life. Finances, family, coursework and other stresses affect everyone, even if we choose not to talk about it. Put yourself second and take the time to genuinely care for others in everyday interactions. A stranger has made your day before. Make someone else’s.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. These words have been (questionably) attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Regardless of its origin, the message is the same. If you see something wrong in the world, do your part to make it better. My mother’s adage for this was always “if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re a part of the solution.”

As John F. Kennedy urged over half a century ago, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Stop depending on others to make your life more enjoyable. Turn around and help someone else.

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