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Opinions of Saturday, 29 May 2010

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

It’s Time To Sow Some Edible Seeds In Ghana.

The Voice Of Reason:

The Planting Season Is Here: It’s Time To Sow Some Edible Seeds In Ghana.

Making a difference is part of the Seeds planting process.

So how much difference are you making in the lives of Ghanaians back home; in your community and in your own little world?

If your work doesn’t make a difference in others’ lives then it has no meaning. If you don’t make a difference in your little own world your life has no meaning. What doesn’t make a difference has absolutely no meaning! It’s as simple as that.

Sowing seeds in small steps along the way are more important than headlines- grabbing generosity .Because every little seed -sowing achievement along the way raises our confidence to do more.

In our instant-gratification- freak society which has a huge appetite for acquiring more worldly toys, it’s very hard to talk about making –a- difference in a small way in other people’s lives . Our inability to delay instant- gratification is really the greatest obstacle to making a difference and sowing seeds.

The sad thing is that we’re so focused on our careers and the need to succeed against all odds that we’re often consumed by that preoccupation so much that we leave no room to sow seeds and make a difference. When we get old, we feel lost and drift without a purpose in life.

To an average Ghanaian, the game of life is winning. And success is measured by the one who dies with the most amounts of toys and more houses or cars. This is true of the most successful person you know as it’s of the most “ordinary” person you know.

But, I’d like to share with you a story a friend of mine told me .However ,I want him to tell you the story in his own words:

There is a little old man in my neighborhood that I see out walking every morning. He walks slowly, slightly limping, as if he has a knee or hip replacement. This elderly man always --without interruption—embarks on his magnificent seed- sowing activity religiously and very cheerfully when he sees people.

Nevertheless, there is something unique and untold about this man. At some point, I even thought he was a right candidate for the insane asylum as I watched him do his work—I was wrong! What he does is that every time he sees a morning newspaper on the side walk or the streets, he picks it up and delivers it to the subscriber’s porch or front door. I have been watching this elderly man do his morning routine everyday, without giving any thought to his action. But, one day when my curiosity couldn’t negotiate with my prejudice, I stopped him and asked why he does what he does.

“Why do you always dress up nicely every morning to pick up your neighbors’ newspapers?” With such a thriving, thirsty curiosity about his obsession, I naively and playfully asked him, hoping to hide my prejudice.

“I’m old and not trying to focus on the difference I prefer to make but can’t make.” He scanned me gently with his crossed eyes then burst out laughing. “I just want to plant seeds by picking up my neighbors’ newspapers that are thrown onto the street and on the lawn. I just want to make them know that things are different in a small way for them because I’m here. At least, they will miss me when I’m long gone because their world won’t be the same”. He unapologetically explained to me his intention.

”Yes indeed,” nodding my head in agreement with anticipation for more of his words of wisdom.

That was a difference –making at its basic. It’s also called “planting seeds,” because many amazing phenomenal things always come out of ‘planting seeds’ in right places at right times. You self-centered politicians, are you listening? From now on every politician who is blithely and stubbornly spending money that is not his and wealth that is not yet created should get down on his bended knee and ask Ghana for forgiveness for stealing from her with impunity.

I forgot where I read the following quote from but, it’s very true:” The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it’s too low and we reach it”. In other words, we tend to think that we can’t make a difference in what we do because making a difference has to be a very exceptional act of kindness. That is wrong!

The fact of the matter is we all have the ability and the potential to sow seeds into the fertile soil of the other person’s world. We all can make an internal, voiceless commitment to make a little difference so that one day someone can says that Ghana or your town and neighborhood would be different without you.

It’s a simple principle: To expect an exceptional service or get a special attention you should also try to make a difference in another person’s life. To experience the making –a-difference phenomenon, try to be the one who is making the difference. If you go to a store or a market and treat a person behind the counter especially well, he may treat the next person inline well and that person goes home and treats her family well, and…… In short, anytime you sow seeds you’re in effect changing the inner nature of the entire world. It’s not that hard.

The elderly man in my friend’s story must be very wealthy: emotionally and financially. Yes, I have nothing to base my assumption on but, based on his commitment to making a difference in other people’s lives---without expecting anything back—he must be enjoying what he does. I have the feeling that if he had done that in his work and professional life then he would be a wealthy man in his own right. Because you can only be wealthy when your work makes a difference in other people’s lives.

And it’s also said that, “happiness is not being rich. It’s doing something to make a difference by creating something of ‘value’ in other people’s lives, then being able to reflect on the fruit of your labor as you get old”.

A very wise legendary motivational speaker named, Zig Zigler once wrote, “you can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people to get what they want”.

The emotional dividend of making a difference is of incalculable measure. How can you be lonely or depressed while you’re too busy helping someone else? It’s impossible for the mind to hold those two activities simultaneously .So go ahead and sow some seeds whenever you can. Spend a little of your time mentoring someone. Dedicate your porch for the children in the neighborhood to gather for home studies. No effort is too small to make an impact.

I wonder how Ghana will be if each one of us –including politicians, teachers, preachers ,police officers and all public officials—begin to make a small difference in the lives of the people they come in contact with. Not only the emotional and economic dividends would be enormous, but it will be a contagious act; a cultural revolution that can make Ghana a better place for us all.

So just look around in your neighborhood I bet there is something you can do to make a small difference. We can make Ghana a better place if we could sow seeds and make a difference in the everyday lives of our clients, customers and students. Consequently, things will not be the same.

Maybe you can experiment with this by giving that controversial customer in your establishment just ten minutes of absolute attention, just to see how it works. What about donating your time to teach at your former school?

The longevity of making a difference and its ability to spread its seeds makes the most lasting impact.

Remember that the old man’s seeds sown, yield not only fruits of personal satisfaction to him and others in the form of a clean environment, but also initiates a wonderful and long –lasting culture of cleanliness in the minds of the benefactors’ consciences.

Winston Churchill once said,” we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”. So we shouldn’t be so threatened by those who are not on the same socio-economic plateau as us. Most fear is fear of unknown. So you can remove that fear by making a difference one step at a time. I can assure you, once you commit to seed planting process you will be free because a burden will be lifted and you will see life in a different way.

How many Seeds have you planted so far in Ghana? What will be your legacy when you are long gone?

Let’s try this: Make a list, either mentally or on paper, of what your friends and closest family members know about your seed- planting moments. What difference did you make in other people’s lives? (I’m not talking about the remittances you sent to the folks back home.) Let’s say you had just died. And everyone was at your funeral. If it were your funeral, and everyone (including kids) got up one at a time, what would they say about how you made a difference in their lives?

Do you have a hard time thinking of your seed- sowing moments? Try it .Don’t worry about your flaws and short-comings. Everyone has a few.

The more you try it, the more aware you will become. Life needs death. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. So do something to sow your seeds in your town, village or neighborhood while you have time.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (The Voice Reason) Nj,USA

*The author is a social commentator and founder of the Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment Foundation, at Asuom.