I heard this one many years ago from someone from my parents’ generation. While the exact details are hazy the essence of the story hopefully still comes through the cracks in my retelling.
The person who told me this had heard it from someone else from India, who happened to visit the main headquarters of Volvo in Sweden for a few days in order to collaborate onsite. A Swedish co-worker offered to one day pick him up from his hotel on the way to the office. Based on the timing they agree upon they would have arrived much earlier than when most of the other workers made it to the office.
When they finally reached the office and entered the massive parking lot there were only a few spots occupied. The office building was quite far away from the parking entrance. The guy with the car parked in slot close to the entrance of the parking lot and together they began the not so insignificant walk towards the office buildings.
The Indian guy wasn't sure why he chose to park the car so far away from the office building when there were plenty of slots close by. Both time and energy could have been saved if they had parked closer. However since he had only been working with the Swedes for a couple of days he chose to stay quiet about it. He still couldn't come up with a good reason to satisfactorily explain this occurrence.
A couple of days he ran into the same colleague who had dropped him and his curiosity finally got the better of him. He asked him flat out about the other day. He said "Why did you chose to park your car so far away the other day when you dropped me and spent all the extra time and effort to walk to the office" Luckily he didn't take any offence to the question and very simply proceeded to explain.
He replied “I was lucky to be able to make it the office well before time and had plenty of time to make the clock. However there might be many others who for whatever reasons might not have been able to make it as early. For them having parking spaces available to them much closer to the office would be a big relief and they would still be able to make it on time.”
This was a revelation to the Indian guy. It's a way of thinking that I think for most Indians is rather alien in nature. Selfishness pervades our culture and manifests itself in so many ways. It is one of the saddest facets of our lives here. Indian culture itself is an extremely influential one when it comes to the positive sides like the arts, entertainment, spirituality and it's culinary delights.
But everything gets overshadowed by the disease of selfishness. It's what drives down the value of human life in general. The person who drives on the wrong side of the road or breaks a signal cares only about themselves and their desire to get to their own destination faster. The one who drives drunk is trying to prove his own capacity to function under the influence. Countless innocents become a victim of this menace.
However keeping all these morbid examples aside would we ever think about the parking situation if it ever applied to us in the same way. To think of others less fortunate before ourselves even in the simplest situations of life
I know I wouldn't because I was never taught to think that way. This story has stuck in my head since more than a decade now. I don't even know if I could ever apply in my life. Would the people around me consider me more foolish than social. The only thing we can do is tell our coming generations more of these stories and sow the seeds of change. Philanthropy is not the domain of millionaires or billionaires alone and neither is it correlated to wealth.
It can start just by thinking beyond only our own needs and desires in the simplest facets of life.