Tradition of Social Engagement
Today I was sitting at a food bank while I was waiting for the person I help out who has HIV/AIDS get some food to help him through the week. The food bank is run out of an African American church and serves many people in the community. Three days a week they hand out boxes of unprepared food for people, only asking for some form of identification and nothing else. On the other days of the week they serve a hot lunch to anyone, again only asking for identification.
Most of the food, at least the canned and boxed items come from members of the church, the fresher items come from local stores, bakeries, and distributors. Members of the church, all without pay, run the operation.
As I was sitting there I was thinking how great it would be to be able for our Sangha to do something even half as great as that. But we are a small sangha, both small in membership and small in space. It will be many years before we would be able to approach the scale of this church’s operation.
This left me thinking about a number of things. First off how small my personal effort is compared to the large scale effort of this church. It also left me hoping that some day our Buddhist Sangha could also reach out to the community and provide support like this church was doing.
I went out side to sit while waiting, the sun was warm and it was a beautiful day. I noticed a plaque on the side of the building in dedication, and it stated that a single woman had founded the church. A single woman was the founder of that church.
A single woman who had a dream began the work some years ago to manifest her dream. Now I do not know if her original dream envisioned a food bank and who knows what all else the church does, but her dream did make it possible.
Sitting there I got to thinking about how important it is to at least begin the effort. How if we sit on the side wishing and praying for the magnificent effort or the large and grand effort then we won’t even make the small effort along the way on which to build a foundation. Making the cause, beginning the task, establishing the tradition on which future generations can build and expand is perhaps the greatest thing to engage in.
Leaving the food bank I felt greatly encouraged to continue the effort to care for those with HIV/AIDS regardless how small that effort may be. I am determined to create and foster that tradition in our Sangha so that in the future more people may be assisted by the social engagement of Buddhist acting on their belief of compassion.
It all begins with a single person.