By Abe Villarreal
A friend taught me a new phrase in Spanish. It goes like this: Haz el bien sin mirar a quien.
It roughly translates to do good without seeing who is benefitting. I love it and I’ve been seeing a lot of that in practice lately.
I saw it when a friend named Sarita posted on her Facebook account that she would make free face masks for anyone who needed them in the community. Hundreds of requests later, she’s busy cutting and sewing, sending them out across our region, and trying to meet a desperate and unexpected need.
Sarita doesn’t know whose faces will end up wearing them. She is practicing Haz el bien sin mirar a quien.
I saw it when a community member starting a Facebook Group for anyone to post the needs of individuals or families. People quickly joined and answered the call. Within 24 hours, toilet paper and food were being delivered to strangers’ homes. People were doing good without knowing who was benefitting.
I saw it when a local communications company quickly created free wifi spot areas throughout a four-county area. There was a need to give others internet access for homework or to do business. The company employees will never know who ended up using their service in this time of need. They decided that an important necessity of the community should be solved.
The stories go on and on. At the moment, regular people and big corporations are on the same page on this notion: Haz el bien sin mirar a quien.
When times get tough, we are reminded of ideals taught to us by our ancestors, who for the most part, had it tougher than we did. The sacrifice which fell upon them through job losses, food rationing, or the call to war, created sayings, or dichos, such as: Haz el bien sin mirar a quien.
It’s a saying that invokes selflessness. Good deeds are done better when they are done anonymously. Somehow it means more to the person that benefits from your generosity. It means more to the giver too.
Other cultures have similar sayings, also born out of difficult circumstances. Save one save the world. It’s a Jewish concept practiced heroically by the likes of Oscar Schindler.
Times of sacrifice do much in bringing the good out of us. We have little but we give plenty. We forget our own needs and look to the needs of others. Our worldly possessions seem insignificant. They are replaced with moments and occasions we suddenly find more valuable.
In all of us is a yearning to shake a hand and give a hug. In many of us, there is a desire for more. For some reason, we keep it hidden, in a secret place, waiting to bring it out at the right moment.
If these times have taught us anything, is that it’s O.K. to be the people we are now, not just today, but always.
There is never a wrong time to practice my new favorite saying: Haz el bien sin mirar a quien.
Abe Villarreal writes about life and culture in southern New Mexico. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.