April 1, 2005
by Jordan Soll, DDS
Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a kingdom. In this man’s life he had three friends. The first friend was someone he adored and spent most of his time with. It was to this friend he paid the most attention. The second friend was someone he knew well and saw on occasion. Though he was well acquainted with this friend he did not pay as much attention to him as he did to the first friend. The third friend was someone he rarely paid attention to. Although he knew that this friend had great qualities he made little effort to be in his company. And so in this kingdom the man lived with these relationships, which characterized his life.
One day the king of the kingdom summoned the man to appear before him at the royal castle–needless to say the man was paralyzed with fear. Why would the king want to see him? Not knowing what to do, the man turned to his best friend, the one whom he adored and spent most of his time with. He asked this friend to accompany him to see the king, as he was fearful of going alone. To his disbelief, the friend emphatically refused to attend, being fearful of the king and what this audience could mean. In fact, he would not even discuss the matter. Moreover, he did not even offer any words of comfort or insight as to how to approach the situation.
Baffled by the response of the first friend the man turned to his second friend for support. Feeling embarrassed because of his lack of interest in their relationship over the years, the man sheepishly requested that the second friend accompany him to see the king. This friend was more responsive and offered to accompany him to the palace gates. But, like the first friend, he too was afraid to see the king. So although he was willing to accompany him to the palace gates, he would not cross the threshold; the man would have to enter the palace on his own.
Fearful and out of options, the man was left with nowhere to turn but to the friend whom he had ignored the most throughout his life. He went to see this friend, who was eager to have his company, and he explained his predicament. He elaborated to this friend, who did not hold a grudge for all but being ignored throughout their relationship, how frightened he was to go to the king. What could the king possibly want with him? To his surprise and amazement, the third friend welcomed him into his arms, and told him that he would be honoured to go with him to see the king. In fact, he felt it was his duty not only to accompany the man to see the king, but also to enter the palace ahead of him. He would meet with the king, to see if there was anything that he could do on the man’s behalf, so that his audience would be that much easier.
In our lives all of us have three friends. The first friend, the one who turned out to be no friend at all, is our money. This is because when we leave this earth our money will be of no value to us. The second friend, the one who accompanied the man only to the palace gates, is our family. Though they can hold our hand and be with us till the end, they cannot pass into the next world with us. It is the third friend, the one that many do not pay enough attention to, that should be more valued. The third friend is all of the good deeds that we have done while on this earth. It is our good deeds that will go before us when our life is over and we go to be judged before the “King of Kings.”
These good deeds (which in the Jewish religion are referred to as mitzvoth) can take many forms. We, as dentists, have the opportunity to make a good living and enjoy the many material trappings that this country has to offer. However, we should never forget that we also have a social responsibility to those of us who are less fortunate. With that in mind it is important to think about a year-round spirit of giving, and not just at the year-end holiday season.
Throughout North America each year, November 15 is set aside as National Philanthropy Day. Moreover, the National Post newspaper published an entire section devoted to fundraising and the efforts of philanthropists. These efforts can be made in various ways, such as monetarily or by giving our time. In fact, Canadians spend two billion hours of their time working for appreciation rather than a paycheck. In addition, each year Canadians fill 19 million volunteer positions, which is equivalent to one million full-time positions.
If we choose to honour our social commitment by financial support, a rule of thumb that friends of ours taught us, is to give until it begins to affect our lifestyle.
Philanthropy is a personal decision, but once we have identified causes that are near and dear to our heart, support for those causes could bring us a lot closer to that third friend.
Winston Churchill once said, “You make a living from what you get, you make a life from what you give.”
Jordan Soll is Oral Health’s editorial board member for Cosmetic Dentistry.