JFS Perspectives

Monday, February 10, 2014

Guest Blog by Evan Silverman: The Chain Reaction of Good

Evan Silverman; photo courtesy of Nathan Armes and Magpie Media, Inc.

Evan Silverman has been a JFS volunteer since 2008. We first introduced you to Evan in this blog post and he has been featured in two of our print newsletters. He is a great advocate and friend of JFS who wants to share his perspective about “the chain reaction of good” and other key ideas that have guided him along his journey in life.

There is a concept that Jewish Family Service (JFS) has been talking about recently called “the chain reaction of good.” This idea resonates very well with me. I think all of humanity is linked – not in straight line, but rather in a gigantic circle. What are the implications of this circular chain? First of all, it means everything is connected. According to Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, every point of mass attracts every other point of mass—everywhere.

It also means that when somebody holds the door open for someone, a temporary one-to-one connection has been made between the two people through the act of kindness. I believe the chances improve that the recipient will do something nice in the future for someone else. It is my feeling that temporary one-to-one connections happen all of the time as we make our way to the grocery store, pharmacy, and beyond.

I believe that sometimes there are more permanent connections as well, such as friendships. Another example of important connections is one where many people are connected over time, i.e. a community. Sometimes these communities are healthy, such as the one at Jewish Family Service.

There are connections created between staff, volunteers, and clients at JFS. A healthy community like JFS has some specific characteristics; everyone is valued for their uniqueness and there must be a sufficient amount of love. It’s also a community that helps assure that the people who need help the most get the most help. I believe that a community in which the members exercise free will in a positive way is extremely important as well.

Two assets over which we can exercise free will (at times) are time and money. One positive way to use time is to cultivate love. This, for me, has occurred as a natural part of being an active member of a healthy community. Jewish Family Service, where I’ve volunteered for the past four years, fits in that category. The Tattered Cover Book Store, where I work, is a great example as well. In each group I am motivated as part of something bigger than myself rather than by fear or greed. When we make positive choices within a healthy community, we transform that community, and by extension, we transform the world in general. In turn, this also further changes us.

Money is valuable as well. When we support a local charity, we improve the community in which we live. The Jewish concept of tzedakah contains the idea that regardless of how little money one has, there is always at least a small amount that can be donated. Living in this way improves the biggest human community of all—mankind.

-Evan Silverman, JFS Volunteer