In a world with so many children in need, I’ve never wanted to make another one. Speaking with my Dad tonight, I was telling him about an ‘Adopt a Dad’ program which is being established. Dad, being a Dad through and through, immediately brightened.
“I think we could take in another one,” He said pensively, “We could do it all again.”
Mind you, he hasn’t talked to Mum about this and so, as is the nature of marital bliss, the ‘we’ is a royal one.
I asked him why.
“There are so many babies out there who are discarded and unloved. Imagine how we could change that if everyone took just one more in.”
I have never been motherly. I’ve never yearned to have a child, or even to have a partner. But I’ve always said that if I wanted to have a family, I would adopt. I always knew my Dad wanted to adopt another child, but knowing why makes it even more special.
My parents have spent their life giving.
Not in the conventional way of joining a Rotary Club and volunteering at barbecues, but in helping out the Buddhist Temple with their paperwork or donating things to the dog shelter or visiting an elderly lady to fix her internet connection on a tired Sunday afternoon. In me, they instilled a need to give back.
“You live in Australia. You speak English fluently. You drew up with no abnormalities, no sickness. You received an excellent education. You studied a wonderful degree. But what people will remember you for is your kindness.”
As my life story grew, with each new chapter, they always reminded me about what I would do to repay the universe for giving me such an excellent life and though I don’t believe in karma, I do believe in karma. You are enriched by what you give in life.
In a strange way, I give because I fear not giving. Whether it’s my time or effort, I fear the consequences of not giving.
If I don’t speak out and advocate for better mental health, who will?
If I don’t give my time to teach a child a concept with which they are struggling, who will?
If I don’t hear out someone’s problem, who will?
If I don’t adopt this deaf puppy, who will?
If I don’t raise money for this organisation, who will?
If I don’t, who will?
Whenever I heard of a hospitalisation or a death from suicide, I feel immense sadness. It’s sadness that I wasn’t there for them and that I couldn’t help them. It was only last week that I saw someone leap to his death. I was on my iPhone, browsing Facebook when they were going through the last moments of their life. And I wasn’t there for them.
I know it is humanly impossible to be there for everyone, but I can’t help but to feel guilty that I wasn’t there for them.
While I sit at work, tapping away at a new discussion paper or new policy primer, I wonder how I am helping.
In a strange way, I know I am.
I hope I am.