Mark Twain had a unique perspective on doing good. He said, “Always do right. Some people will be gratified, and the others will be astonished.” Doing good – with no expectation of reward – can revolutionize your life. You will be transformed.
Another way to say this is to live so that you bless each moment. You can bless the moment, bless the situation, bless the problem, bless the challenge. You can even bless your enemy and things that you don’t like. (I’ll admit…that’s a hard one, but not impossible.)
This was a central message in the thinking of Martin Buber, one of the great souls of this century and a Jewish scholar and mystic. When I was student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, he used the library there and would often eat in the refectory. He was a short, stooped man and was very old at the time. We would say, “There’s Martin Buber,” but none of us ever went to sit with him. I wish I knew then what I know now about this remarkable man.
His great legacy was a little book called I and Thou that puts forth the concept of blessing other people without any expectation of reward.
He encouraged a deep, spiritual transformation in human behavior in which we see others as “Thou” – not “it” – and honor them. He taught that our job in living is to relate to other people as if they were souls to be cherished and deeply, deeply respected.
That’s the ultimate in blessing. Never to use anybody. Never to take advantage of anyone. To expect the best from life, and give the best, because we have too much respect for each other’s soul to act otherwise.