17 July 2019 | St. Albans, United Kingdom [A reflection by Alvern McCrow]
In primary school, aged about 10, we were assigned the task of completing some well-known sayings. I responded to “Half a loaf is better than…” by writing “one”. The teacher took great delight in telling the rest of the class that I was foolish enough to complete my saying as “Half a loaf is better than one” instead of “Half a loaf is better than none”.
Teacher and pupils were all laughing at me. So, I explained that half a loaf was better than one because it meant that I had shared half with someone who was hungry. The laughter stopped.
Largely due to my mother’s influence I was raised to think of the needs of others. To my shame I haven’t always done so. Sometimes my thoughts have been too engrossed on what I want rather than what I need. It’s very easy to become selfish. That’s not to deny that we must take care of our own needs too.
But we now live in the world of the “selfie” – an alarming focus on self. Depression and suicide rates amongst teenagers in particular are spiralling upwards – the constant focus on self leaves many feeling exposed and vulnerable, and with the belief that they can’t measure up to the standards of others.
I’m glad that I grew up when I did. I’m glad that I learned that if my attention is turned to others I am not then crushed by an all-consuming, exaggerated sense of my own needs.
If you are the recipient of a random act of kindness, or a kind word, or an unexpected gift from someone you hardly know, don’t always assume there must be an ulterior motive – there are, thankfully, still, quite a number of people in the world who don’t mind the risk of being laughed at and who are quite content with having only half a loaf when they could have had one.