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Musings: The Art of Giving

We are in the season of giving and receiving. However, what is more significant is not the weight of the gift but the emotion and the sentiment behind the act of giving. While I do not profess to have perfected this art – I do find that giving has a certain quality of fulfillment inherent in the process. At a deeper, innate level, we all want to give and leave behind a legacy.
I must admit that while I have often served as a volunteer for nonprofit agencies and tithed my sentiments and philosophy of giving was not as spiritually evolved as it is today.  Tariq’s tragic death almost 24 years ago shattered everything! My giving today is very different than it was when Tariq was alive. Before he died, I believe I gave more from a place of obligation or even guilt while my main focus was on my own material wealth and personal gains for my family and me.  In other words, my giving did NOT carry the healthy emotion and sentiments of TRUE and unselfish giving.
That changed with Tariq’s death as it totally ended everything I believed in and the focus of my life as I knew it prior to his death altered forever. When you lose the most important attribute of your life, it takes away the glitter of everything material! I was in my mid-40’s at the time and I had to figure out a new life and a new philosophy of how I was going to spend the rest of my life without my son. It was like I was a toddler again.
With the grace of God, I have bounced back and live a very different life than the one I did when Tariq was alive. Seeing that there were “victims at both ends of the gun” (a download not from my intellect or loving heart, but from a Higher Power) as he was senselessly murdered while delivering pizzas (a part-time college job) by a 14-year youth gang member in a gang initiation ritual.
Understanding that the enemy was not the 14-year-old who murdered my son, but rather the societal factors that force many young souls to choose lives of crime, drugs, weapons, and violence. The central question that kept me from sleeping was how did we Americans create a culture where kids kill kids?  What is our responsibility in the culture we have created? Perhaps each one of us Americans, including me, must take responsibility for this major malaise in our society? Would that make more sense? As a proud and contributing American citizen, I felt I must take my share of the responsibility for the bullet that took my son’s life – why? Because it was fired by an American child.
So, with that perspective and to honor my son, nine months after Tariq passed away, I founded the Tariq Khamisa Foundation which is in its 24th year. I sincerely forgave my son’s killer and partnered with his guardian and grandfather to help create the groundwork for TKF to protect other children from becoming victims at either end of violent acts. Again, with the grace of the Universe, TKF has successfully created a Safe School Model that goes way beyond stopping kids from killing each other to successfully teaching kids the principles of nonviolence, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, and peacemaking. TKF is a leading organization in the concept of restorative practices and has perfected that over the last 23 plus years. Restorative practices are about healing both the victim and the offender as opposed to the punitive system we have in place. I am thrilled to see that restorative practices are gaining much more momentum in our modern society.

Today I spend 20 to 25 hours a week as a volunteer and contributor for TKF and speak widely nationally and internationally on the work of TKF and the power of forgiveness to create a more peaceful world (as documented in my trilogy). Coming back to

the point of this newsletter-The Art of GIVING. I can firmly tell you I now give with an open heart, altruistically and sincerely and it has worked miracles in my life. There is a great quote from Albert Schweitzer – one of my favorite philosophers that reads:
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

I can totally relate to this sentiment – we all have a spiritual purpose and it is about GIVING and being in service – that is why we are here; to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. That should be our foremost priority. Unfortunately, in the climate we live within today, this philosophy of leaving a better world espoused by our founders and former generations is being seriously challenged. This means, for us caring Americans, we all need to increase the volume of our work and give twice or threefold than we have previously. From this perspective, I now give easily and am blessed to have discovered my true spiritual purpose and stay in gratitude that the good Lord helps me choose this path of service and giving.

I know I am speaking to the choir as most of my readers are givers and active in creating a better world. I thought this was an important reminder at this time of the year when the whole world is celebrating and contributing their time, treasures, and talents! However, as we give, let us do so from a sincere, authentic, and altruistic level in support of a better world for our future generations. What can be more important than that? In this selfless giving the Universe, in turn, blesses us with many meaningful gifts of peace, purpose, and happiness – at least that has been my experience.
Below, enjoy Khalil Gibran’s brilliant wisdom on giving. He does a much better job than my musings. I wish you all a joyous, loving and blessed holiday season. Please remember TKF for your end of the year charitable giving – we routinely have a waiting list of many schools for our Safe School Model and your donations can help us reach more children and youth. Today’s youth will be our future leaders and promote these important values of inclusion, empathy, compassion, accountability, forgiveness, peacemaking, and peace building! Thank you all from the very bottom of my heart for your generous support over these many years.
Peace, love and many blessings,
   Azim Khamisa
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Azim Khamisa

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