Soapbox: Saros Kavina: We should all do our bit to help those less fortunate than ourselves
ON January 27 2005, my friend and I arrived back in the UK having survived the Indian Ocean tsunami on Phuket Island, Thailand.
You can imagine my shock to read the Derby Telegraph headline for December 30 2004: "Missing."
The opening line of the report stated: "Fears are growing over the fate of two Derby men in the aftermath of the devastating Asian tidal wave."
The full story of our Tsunami experience was published, with vivid photographs, on February 3 2005 in the Derby Telegraph entitled: "We saw people being dashed about by waves like matchsticks. Some of them were sucked out to sea."
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Altogether, 250,000 people died in the tsunami.
The film The Beach, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, was made mainly on the beautiful Phi Phi Islands, not far from where we were staying.
We visited these islands only days before they were ravaged by the tidal wave. Leonardo wept when he heard what had happened to the islands he loved. After my return to the UK, I wrote a letter to the Derby Telegraph concluding that "my tsunami experience has made me realise more than ever how precious life is. It is our solemn duty to get our priorities right while we are in this world".
On January 27 2013, Holocaust Memorial Day, I listened to the views of some Jewish survivors. The TV interviews were very moving. One survivor was asked about his belief in God. He said that he lost it completely during his time in Auschwitz death camp. "
Where was God when we needed Him so much during those terrible years?" he asked. Another Jewish survivor commented that her faith in God gave her the strength and hope to keep alive.
There is still a massive amount of cruelty and hatred in the world. It can be asked, "what can just one person do to change things for the better?"
Never forget that every single one of us matters and is of importance. Each and every one of us can contribute towards the reduction of an unending spiral of human conflict and division.
In my dictionary, the definition of philanthropy is "the love of humanity through selfless giving".
The quality of true selflessness is difficult for most of us mortals. It borders on the saintly. But unless we do our best and make a real effort we will never know what we can do to raise the quality of life of those less fortunate than ourselves.
You do not have to look as far away as a Third World country to help deprived and struggling communities. There are underprivileged and neglected people in our own society – possibly right on your very doorstep.
I have always been inspired by a verse in the Jewish Torah: "Whosoever saves one life, saves mankind entire."