THE GREATEST GOOD
“The Greatest Good You Can Do for Another is Not Just to Share Your Riches But to Reveal To Him His Own”
–Benjamin Disraeli, 19th Century Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1874 – 1880)
We all love to share our joy, happiness, pride, experiences, achievements and at times our riches too. What we hide from others is our own faults, shortcomings, failures, handicaps, lack of education, manners (or the lack thereof) and far too numerous things to be mentioned.
The above quote gives us ample food for thought. It makes us wonder if we are really doing the right thing in looking for others’ shortcomings and/or failures. Why is it that we find it easier to manage others’ house better than our own? Why can’t we just be happy in encouraging others to improve their own lot? This will help us improve our own into the bargain.
Why is it that we find it easier to manage others’ house better than our own?
Have you ever looked at a friend or relation in a better financial position than yourself and wondered why it is so hard for this person to share his/her wealth with you? Have you ever asked for, received and/or requested financial help from someone in your life? If yes, with what results? Did the help come with some preconditions, if it came at all? Did the giver set a time-limit on how long you can use it for or when you must return it (never mind the accrued interest)?
Who am I to ask you these penetrating questions that are none of my business? You are absolutely right; it is none of my business. The reason I have posed these questions is to make yourself aware of so many different scenarios that could occur in given circumstances, no matter whether you are the receiver or the giver. Would you lend someone money without a precondition; I don’t think so. Then how could you expect it to be otherwise if the tables were turned.
Looking back at the title of this post you will find the advice contrary to popular belief of capitalism. The very capable author of these deeply meaningful words tells us a different story than simply helping the needy. He is not content to sharing the riches alone. He wants us to actually help the other person realize the hidden treasures within so he too could become rich and not be dependent upon others’ mercy any more. It is exactly the same advice but in different words: “Instead of giving someone a fish to eat once, teach him how to fish so he could eat always”.
Going beyond the immediate, the deeper message we need to identify is that of mentoring. We all have certain talents and certain USP (Unique Selling Point). If only we could help someone else learn few of our good points and improve his or her own life, we must never be shy of extending help.
It reminds me of another valuable lesson that I learned almost half a century ago: “If you have a Dollar and I have a Dollar and we both exchange, we shall still have only a Dollar each; however I have an idea and you have a different idea and we both exchanged our ideas, we both become richer with 2 ideas each”. I will let you do the math and justify the suggestion. Needless to say, once it hits home, even you might be richer with an additional idea: to reveal to another person his or her own riches hidden within!
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