I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we’re lead to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear, and it’s worse than fear – it is active disengagement.
“Good luck, Dale. It’s a loss cause. You’re just wasting all your time and effort in helping the Philippines. They’re all corrupt at home anyway!” Rene Aguilar told me with a straight face; he snickered and folded his arms across his chest.
I was shocked; I did not know what to say to him. Rene had been my coworker for many years at Chinese Mutual Aid Association where I used to teach English as a Second Language and Citizenship classes to Chinese and Russian immigrants that lived in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.
Rene’s cynicism really bothered me. He may be right. All my work helping and promoting giving was a waste of time and that his cynicism was telling the truth.
However, as I went through the rest of my day, I met four women who gave me the opposite reaction to cynicism. These women were not cynical; they were engaged and they demonstrated unselfish acts of giving.
For lunch, I met another former coworker, Emerita Bernales. On the contrary, Emerita was not cynical; she was very encouraging and supportive of my philanthropic work to the Philippines. She wanted to connect me with her husband, Jessie who have sent street children to school in Imus, Cavite, Philippines for many years.
Later that afternoon, I visited my Mom and I found out that she had been secretly saving balikbayan boxes full of canned goods, bottled juices, dried beans and rice. She and my cousin, Sionie Sales, have saved these food items for many months now and they were planning to ship them to a home for the aged in the Philippines in Calamba, Laguna.
Later that evening, I received a positive email message from Daisy Beth in Tel Aviv, Israel encouraging me to continue the giving that I do in the Philippines. Daisy Beth and her friends in Tel Aviv are planning a fund-raising drive to raise funds for books and sports equipment for schools in the Cordilleras in Northern Philippines.
After a whirlwind day, I contemplated on the cynicism of Rene and the generosity of Emerita, Sionie, Daisy Beth and my Mom and their plans to engage and give to different parts of the Philippines. These four women all wanted to help in their own way.
I sided with Emerita, Sionie, Daisy Beth and my Mom who wanted to be engaged and to be part of the solution for change in their own way. In the end, I chose engagement rather than cynicism.