By Nevien Shaabneh
People are advised to “dream big,” “ go big or go home,” or think “ all or none.” These concepts are great in encouraging others to seek their best potential, but they do little to help public service and charity. When it comes to charity or service, it often lies in our smallest acts, our daily choices, and from our conscience that fights to be heard among the clamor and trudges of daily life. What inspired me to volunteer and contribute to Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) was the realization that there will never be an opportune time with endless free hours and extra money. The reality is: if not now, then most likely never.
Giving does not have to be a solitary and confining task. For example, through informing and inspiring youth, we were able to fundraise to assist in the Winter Kit Drive for Syria. Through the same inspiration, youth were able to send money to Gaza and help aid children in need. We have all heard setting aside our “latte” money or our “Frappuccino” splurge and donate it to charity instead. As if giving to others necessitates a deprivation of our own happiness and satisfaction. Rarely do people give up their superfluous expenses, but rather give while maintaining their lifestyle choices. They realize that they have always had room and money to give because giving, in actuality, adds to our lives. For example, setting aside $50 dollars a month to sponsor an orphan amounts to about a $1.66 a day. You do not have to give up or sacrifice much. Keep a change jar that encourages every member of your family to donate a set amount each day. Make it a goal to raise at least $1.66 a day. Think of the change strewn about in our cars, purses, or around the house. By making it a family or neighborly initiative, or one among friends, you can give an orphan an opportunity to not only live, but thrive in the world. We should not aim to help people merely survive; we must aim to uphold a higher quality of life as well.
When it comes down to the basics, we have a responsibility to help other humans. Not only as Muslims, but as a species entrusted with this world. Why give? Because it is a moral obligation. Because the ultimate goal of life is to do as much good as possible. Because even a small act of kindness is an act worth taking. Take a step toward helping others because in that small act, there lives a big dream.
Nevien Shaabneh is a novelist, public speaker, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, and consultant for several youth organizations, leadership and interfaith initiatives.
Novel: Secrets Under the Olive Tree