Empty the Jar of Humanity

I don’t care about the stuff you’re made of, or your size, or where you live. What matters is your utility, how you put your talents to good use. Have you disbursed what you’ve been given throughout your life? Not your possessions, not your money, but the benefits you have to offer the world. Why are you holding back? What are you hoarding?

Yesterday, when I was walking, I noticed a jar of peanut butter on the ground. It had been dropped, unopened, and was beginning to leak some oil. The jar’s usefulness was over, it was trash. All of the effort put into getting a good source of food from a farm to a manufacturing plant to a store to a home, was wasted. In this case.

I didn’t care what brand that peanut butter was. I didn’t care about its size. I didn’t care which neighborhood it had fallen. The jar had a purpose, that failed.

The most successful peanut butter jar is an empty one.

A jar’s biggest failure is going to the trash, full.

All the states of quantity in-between are degrees of non-utility.

A jar that’s been emptied of its complete contents in the course of human consumption has provided the most nourishment it can. It has done its bit, fulfilled its potential. The packaging designers succeeded. The peanut farmers did their thing just right. The processing plant that dispensed the recipe into clean jars got an A in class. The salespeople who closed the deal with the market earned their keep. The truckers and receiving clerks shined. The shelf stockers and cashiers completed the deal. And a family got fed.

Consider the amount of peanut butter in homes across your town. What if the jars that get thrown out during normal use aren’t reasonably empty? Is it an exaggeration to say that a scoop of goodness left could provide perhaps one meal? Wouldn’t that be important to somebody, somewhere, whose need may be great?

Have you ever gone to bed just a bit hungry, or not hungry but you knew your stomach would be growling before breakfast? Yes? Has your solution ever been a piece of bread with peanut butter? A final scrape in a near-empty jar would tide you over.

I’ll ask again: What talents are you hoarding? What’s in “your jar” that’s not been put to good use today? There’s a scrape of something you can give, to help someone along. A forum post, a photograph of someone’s forgotten Christmas, a text hello, a Direct Message when it’s not your turn to send one. If you know what you’re conserving, then you are closer than you think, to giving. If you don’t know what you’ve been holding back, I foresee the cracked, street-side jar– full of waste.

Every decent person in your life has done their bit to fill you with goodness. Good preparation, good ideas, good advice, good example. Your parents, your pastor, your teachers, family and friends, they are the farmers and truckers and shelf-stockers. If you don’t empty what you’ve got, you have failed them.

Labels don’t matter. Chunky or smooth; both are fine. It doesn’t matter your maker or your brand. Whoever you are, there’s an eager audience, who need what you have to give. Every last scrape of it. Don’t tell me you can’t find them. Tell me how good it felt to give.

Don’t waste what you have to offer the world.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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