A few years ago, when I was in Amsterdam (reference Post #22 “Life At Full Throttle”), I had the opportunity to visit “The Hiding Place” of Anne Frank. I had read her book, “The Diary Of A Young Girl”, when I was a teenager, and it made a lasting impression on me. She wrote it between the ages of 13-15, before her capture and death in a Nazi concentraion camp. What an indescribable feeling to walk through the rooms where she lived in her final days, climbing up that “secret staircase” behind the rotating bookcase meant to hide them from the Nazi’s who seeked to destroy those of her faith. I recall seeing the peeling wallpaper in what had been her bedroom, and thinking that she had spent hours looking at this exact same wallpaper prior to her capture and death.
There were four brave citizens who helped the Frank family during their hiding period, bringing them food, news of the war, etc. They risked their lives every day to secure increasingly difficult food supplies to keep the Frank family alive in that difficult time. Two of the four were ultimately arrested and jailed as “enemies of the regime”. Imagine the gratitude Anne and her family felt toward those four. Perhaps those feelings were behind her infamous quote:
“No One Has Ever Become Poor By Giving”
For those of us in the USA, I suspect our initial thought when reading that quote focuses on material goods. I believe Anne had a deeper meaning in mind. I suspect she was saying in reality that we receive unexpected gains in our lives through generosity. The four who helped her were far from materially wealthy, but I imagine they received more than we’ll ever understand from their generosity during the war.
Mother Theresa is another who comes to mind when I think of the true gifts we receive from a generous heart. She gave her life to meeting the needs of some of the world’s absolute poorest in Calcutta, India. She certainly didn’t gain material weath, but I suspect her life was richer than we’ll ever imagine. Her willingness to sacrifice “until it hurts” is evident in her following quote
“It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”
While none of us will likely have the chance to help people like Anne Frank or Calcutta’s poorest, a generous heart is something we should all strive for. In my view, it’s our moral obligation as members of “The Haves” to help members of “The Have Nots”. Trust me, almost all of us in the United States are “The Haves” when viewed through a global lens. There are literally millions of people who could be blessed by our generosity in much the same way that Anne Frank, or Calcutta’s poorest, were blessed in their time of need.
While our motive should be to help those in need, I suspect you’ll also find that your generosity will bring unexpected richness to your own life. In this blog’s quest to “Help Others Achieve A Great Retirement”, I urge all of you to consider generosity as a critical element in your planning.
After all, “No One Has Ever Become Poor By Giving”.