Society teaches us to value the welfare of others over our own. And this is often the reason why we feel conflicted when faced with a choice between helping others and helping ourselves. In the end, we usually choose other people. We enjoy the feeling of being magnanimous and charitable when we help others. It provides us with a sense of fulfillment. Giving to others makes us feel that life is meaningful.
I remember when I completed my secondary school education, I had to choose between taking care of my siblings and my parents instead of going for Higher Education. I chose to support my siblings and my parents.
But sometimes we go too far. Even when we have nothing left to give, we still do. We forget ourselves. We exchange our priorities, our plans and our ambitions for those of others. We fail to set limits and sacrifice too much for other people. As a result, whatever time, money or energy that is meant for ourselves we give to those around us.
This thinking of others manifested a great deal when I was lucky to have a lucrative position in the Kingdom of Swaziland, now renamed eSwatini. I used to meet, support and at times accommodate residents who visited the Kingdom because I knew areas where I could show them the way forward. These groups sometimes included even high government officials like Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors and professionals in various disciplines coming to support the Kingdom of eSwatini.
Helping and supporting my siblings became useful when I retired because my siblings and my children are now supporting me in my retirement times. But I cannot say the same for supporting the Kenyans who visited eSwatini because most of them never recognised me when I finally came back to Kenya. But when I was helping them, I did not think that they would retaliate and do the same as I did to them.
Fulfillment or Avoiding Guilt?
Do we really become fulfilled when we do this? Or are we just avoiding the feeling of guilt that arises when we do not give? Is this so-called meaningfulness that we experience merely an excuse, a rationalization? When we give beyond what we should, is this really helping? Or are we in fact encouraging dependence on us?
When faced with a choice between ourselves and others, sometimes we should choose ourselves also. It is not selfishness to do this. Because when we sacrifice too much, we are prioritizing others at our own expense.
We should find time do what we enjoy. We ought to develop our potentials and be all that we can be. And we need to stay healthy in every aspect of life. The only real way we can be of any good to the people around us is by taking care of ourselves first. Only when we are complete, whole and happy can we be of greater help to those who truly need us.
Return to Kenya
When I returned to Kenya, my benevolent actions helped me to find employment such as being Appointed Returning Officer for Electoral Commission of Kenya in 1992 leading to the General Elections of December the same year. I was among the first Kenyans, apart from Civil Servants, to manage and control General Elections successfully. This success made me and a number of Kenyans Electoral Experts to be sent to the Republic of Cambodia in South Asians Region to conduct their General Election under the control of United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1993.
The gist of this article is to remind ourselves of the doctrine of doing to others what we would want them to do to us in accordance with what the Bible says.