I just read a wonderful post in a blog called “The Culture Monk”. It made me think about the early days after I lost Azrael and the challenges I faced. It reminded me about some of the things he and I had discussed during our short life together and that I have thought about a great deal in the fifteen years post-Azrael. Why is it that so many people of all spiritual paths are so wrapped up in judgment? They want to show every other path and every person on those paths that their path is superior to all others. They want to show that they are smarter, that they are better, and that they are more… “everything” than everyone else because of the path that they follow.
As for Az and me, we always felt that the person makes the path. We strove to be the difference we wanted to see in the world. Always have and always will, because that is part of why we believe we are here; we improve the world and try to make it better for our having been here.
Example: A friend named Ali is a devout Muslim (his entire wonderful family is just like him) and every time there was a charity drive at our old company, he was, without fail, one of the first to step up and ask me, “What do you need for the drive, Tee?” Did not matter if we were collecting books for the local children’s hospital, food items for the food bank, electric fans for the elderly in summertime, there was Ali with a wad of cash in one hand and car keys in the other, ready to go on a run and get whatever was needed. His elder brother, Humza, and his little sister, Samreen, also our co-workers, always chipped in to his “wad” of cash to help those in need. They are what I think of when I think of “good Muslims”.
As Charity Coordinator (not a “real” position, but our manager graciously bestowed the honorary title) for a large telecommunication company, I had a blast organizing all kinds of drives each year. We had book drives, food drives, fan drives, cook-offs to raise money for local charities, walks to raise money for AIDS awareness, walks to raise money for breast cancer awareness, goodie bag drives for local women’s shelters, etc. It seemed that every month of the year there was something we could raise money for and/or do good for; all we had to do was sit and think for a minute.
I will never forget when the survivors of Hurricane Katrina were being spread among the local states. Just up the road a ways from our office in Las Colinas, they bussed in masses of refugees to Cowboy’s Stadium for “temporary housing and relocation” until the government could figure out what to do to start helping them. Our local management headquarters told us that we were “not allowed” to have a drive as it was not an issue that the corporate office was involved in. I appealed to our national corporate headquarters and still the answer was no. May I just state in my own defense, I tend to have selective hearing at times. I blame it on genetics, as my father was a stubborn S. O. B., too. 😉
Well, as George Takei would say, “Oh Myyy!” the things our people donated when I ran the drive anyway! Our amazing manager, Debbie, looked the other way purposefully as items streamed into the center and gathered in one of our meeting rooms. Our people brought in brand new household appliances suitable for use in motels and hotels (rooms that people were being given free) and that people could take with them to wherever they landed after everything settled somewhere. There were of boxes of dishes, food, clothing, diapers, formula, toys, and games for all age groups, etc. You name it and they brought it in! Usually, it was like pulling teeth. Most of the employees would ignore the drives we had. One or two dozen loyal people were our “core” donators, unless, of course, I gave out prizes for the team that brought in the most items, then, we would have widespread activity. Pizza parties worked best for some reason. However, thanks to the televised horrors of Katrina, showing what the survivors suffered, the entire almost 200 people really got into the giving mood and brought in everything that they could think of. I was so proud of our people and very impressed that it took several of our employees to fill multiple employee’s pickup trucks and cars to drive the items to the official drop-off point in the football area parking lot.
That was what I believe our purpose is on earth. To take care of those in need. To tend to those with nothing. Help those who are suffering. To be the difference!
As such, to celebrate their giving nature, in addition to the typical pot luck dinner I usually organized each month, I threw a center-wide Mardi Gras celebration the following February. I have to admit that the usual monthly parties I threw as Diversity Coordinator (one of the official title I enjoyed) were nothing compared to this one. This one was drastically over budget that month! The pittance the company normally allotted never took me far, but that February it didn’t even cover the full cost of the hundreds of beads I bought, much less the 20 dozen pastries, the decorations, game prizes and more. I really enjoyed creating the games on our intranet site (Yep, Webmaster was my main title) relating to the Mardi Gras celebration and our winners were celebrated, given a prize and photographed for the website. I may have gone over 1.5K in the hole personally, but it was a party that no one in the call center that day will ever forget!
To me it was worth every penny to celebrate the way all people on all the paths in our center, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, witches and pagans, all pulled together to achieve a wonderful thing in the service of those in need!