By Bill Fox/Columnist
I was at Massey Hall in Toronto in 1975, listening to Mother Teresa speak during her first visit to Canada.
She told us she hadn’t come to Canada to recruit help for third world countries because in Canada we have a problem that’s even harder to see, an even bigger problem. I was confused.
How could we have a problem more bigger than third world poverty? Was it pollution? Politics? Drugs? Was it those darn Toronto Maple Leafs?
Mother Teresa said our problem is that too many Canadians suffer from loneliness.
I was shocked.
Well I knew she wasn't going to talk about the Leafs...but. And if she were still alive, Mother Teresa would remind us that humanity is one big extended family, and somewhere down the line we all share common ancestors. We are like a jug of water, poured into glasses of different shapes, and colours.
Whether you are from Tokyo or Timbuktu, we are all living in the same universe of emotions. We all experience happiness, sadness, and everything in between. And whether you live in Port Perry or Puerto Rico, we all have family we care about. Whether you’re from Oshawa or Okinawa, we all want to be loved, and feel worthy of love. And when you give love, you give to yourself by making the world a happier place to live in. So the next time you walk by a stranger, share a smile. They’re just like you. They’re just family you haven’t met yet.
Mother Teresa would also point out that in many third world countries, the communities gather together every night to socialize, sing, and dance. In Canada, we hide away from each other, lock ourselves in our homes, and collect friendships on facebook when we should be cultivating real friendships. Our culture is more focused on materialism than making memories with each other. Nobody remembers all the gifts they received for their birthday, but they always remember the good times together.
So the next time an occasion calls for a present, give the gift of quality time spent together. Go for an adventure in the city, a day of golfing, a concert, a movie, or share some laughs at a comedy club.
Life can sometimes snatch our dearest loved ones from our lives, and as you watch them being lowered into the grave, you won’t regret gifts not given, but time not spent together. So give presence, instead of presents.
If Mother Teresa were alive today, she’d probably finish by telling us that we too often resort to destructive strategies for attracting love. People sabotage their health, so others will be obligated to care for them. Youth are getting in trouble because gangs overcome teenage loneliness and being disciplined at least attracts attention. People spend too much money on clothes that strengthen self-perception and disguise a trembling self worth. Mother Teresa would tell us to try a new strategy and attract love by giving it. One of the best ways of attracting love is by volunteering and giving your time and love to a worthy cause.
Beauty isn’t about the latest fashions or being supermodel thin. True beauty is a light that shines from within.
For better lips, lose the lipstick and speak words of compassion.
For beautiful eyes, forget makeup and fill your vision with gratitude.
For better arms, drop the dumbbells, and lend a helping hand.