Virtue of the Week: Charity

When it comes to charity, anybody can fake virtue for an audience. To stand on a soap box and look “Oh so good” You can’t fake it in others eyes, but ultimately your ego is your strictest judge. You know… that man or woman who is looking back at you in the mirror. Most people run from it. They spend their lives running. It’s easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It’s simple to seek substitutes for honesty–such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, empathy. But there is no substitute for being honest with one’s self.


Schlechter Farms in Brooks, Oregon grows award-winning corn. Each year they enter their corn in the state fair where it usually wins a blue ribbon.

A few years ago a newspaper reporter from the Statesman Journal in Salem interviewed Schlecter Farms and learned something interesting about how they grow their corn. The reporter discovered that Schlechter Farms shares their seed corn with their neighbors.

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are your direct competitors?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said Mr. Schlechter, “didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”

Schlecter Farms is very much aware of the connectedness of life. Their corn cannot improve unless their neighbor’s corn also improves.

So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness by sharing each other’s suffering and encouraging each other, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

If we want to grow good corn, we must be charitable and help others grow good corn first.


A poor young man was helpless, homeless and hopeless. He lost his job and had no one to help him. Depressed and dejected, he decided to commit suicide. He collected all the coins he had with him and bought from a shop a ripe banana wrapped in an old newspaper. He opened the packet and started to eat his last food when an old beggar approached him. With trembling lips, the beggar told him that he has not had anything to eat for several days and was too weak to walk. The young man felt pity and gave the banana to the beggar. He ate it with great joy and thanked him. While leaving, the beggar gave him a very old coin, saying, “Thank you very much. You gave me everything you had. Kindly accept this coin as my humble gift.”

When the old man departed, he carelessly glanced at the piece of paper used to wrap the fruit. There he saw an advertisement from an agency dealing with old coins. Any one possessing old coins was invited to visit the agency and receive suitable price for their old coins on the spot. Out of simple curiosity, he carried the coin to the agency, which was quite close to him. He showed the coin gifted by the beggar. The person managing the agency stared at it and exclaimed in excitement, “What a surprise! It is very rare and several centuries old. It is worth a fortune!” He was given a hefty sum of money as the price of the rare coin. Jumping with joy on receiving the unexpected amount of money, he searched everywhere to find the old man who gifted him the coin. He wanted to share his joy and the money with the beggar. But he could not find the beggar anywhere. On the way he saw a church. He had abandoned all religious practices for months. But now he entered the church and thanked God for His generous gifts. He started a new life with renewed hope and enthusiasm.

Charity cannot be given away. It always comes back!

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