You can learn a good deal by watching how others treat service people. Unfortunately, we’ve all encountered individuals who treat wait staff, cashiers, or tellers with something less than respect. By the same token, we sometimes treat those we live with more harshly than people outside our families.
Additional benevolence is the solution for balancing human relationships. Benevolence means giving to others’ basic needs without a personal reward, and it is a trait we can all develop further. Closely related to generosity, it is the golden rule in motion: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It can build stronger relationships because unselfishly caring about others opens the doors to their hearts. And, it can be positive for the one being benevolent. It is sometimes said that the true source of cheerfulness is benevolence. Selfishness is the opposite of benevolence, and it is conquered when people truly care about one another.
I Will Statements
Use these five statements as a guide for adding more benevolence to your family.
- I will see the needs of others as quickly as I see my own.
- I will give freely without expecting anything in return.
- I will not hoard things for myself.
- I will not profit from the misfortune of others.
- I will give more as I get more.
Emperor penguins illustrate the trait of benevolence when caring for their eggs. After an emperor penguin mother lays an egg, the father lifts the egg off the cold Antarctic ice onto his feet and snuggles it beneath his warm belly. For more than two months, the father stands still, making a significant sacrifice of personal freedom for the benefit of his young. The male penguins eat nothing during this time. The penguins often clump together in huddled masses and take turns moving to the middle of the group. In the center, they are protected from the icy cold wind. Once the penguin in the middle has warmed up, it moves back to the edge of the circle, giving fellow penguins a chance for the center’s warmth.
Heading back to school can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. As schedules fill up, time becomes scarce and it may be more difficult to spend time together as a family. Remembering to treat each other with kindness and respect and looking upon mundane chores like washing dishes or cooking meals as a labor of love will make each day more pleasant.
Returning to the classroom also offers the opportunity to meet friends. New students in particular benefit greatly from benevolent acts. Challenge your child to at least say hello to the new students in his or her class each day. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
In honor of penguins (and to beat the August heat), make popsicles together. If you have molds, that’s great; if not, pour your favorite drink into an ice tray and cover it with plastic wrap to hold flat toothpicks in place within each slot until the liquid is frozen.
Take the chance to talk about each of the “I Will” statements and determine if there is one in particular that your family would like to focus on during the month. (Young children may need parents to explain the words hoard and misfortune.)
If your family can afford it, take the opportunity to make a donation this month. Whether it’s buying a ream of paper for your school or getting a new backpack for a foster child, you’ll be blessed by the giving.
The familiar story of The Gift of the Magi has benevolence as its theme. A loving young couple wants to give one another Christmas gifts, but they have very little money. The wife buys her husband a chain for his pocket watch. She is able to afford this expensive gift by selling her long beautiful hair to a wig maker. Meanwhile, her husband sells his watch in order to buy her a set of combs for her hair. In the end, the couple realizes the love they have for one another is worth more than any gift.
- The visually-stunning documentary March of the Penguins explores the daily lives of these benevolent creatures.
- Young children will enjoy Panda’s New Toy by Joyce Dunbar. Panda doesn’t realize how selfish he is being until Gander tells Panda he doesn’t want to play anymore. Panda’s efforts in benevolence bring the two friends back together.
- In No Room for Napoleon by Adria Meserve, Napoleon the dog learns that kindness and respect are essential ingredients for living on an island with others.
Gayleen Rabakkuk is a freelance writer who spends her time in Oklahoma City and Edmond keeping up with her teenage and preschool daughters. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a regular contributor to MetroFamily Magazine.