A Rare Blossom

Purple lights, music, delicious food, awesome art, and most importantly, friends. That was the scene Friday night at the Fifty Fifty Party, a celebration in food, fun, and philanthropy of the life and art of one of my best friends, Farooq Karim. It was a wonderful evening that reminded me of something I need to remember every day.

Action theory (or theory of action) is an area in philosophy concerned with processes causing willful human action. While there are several versions of this theory, it’s most basic form states that actions stem from desires and beliefs. This seems fairly common sense, in that we act according to our beliefs. Unfortunately, it is rare to find someone whose actions match what they claim to believe. What is not so rare is people who claim to believe something, but they do not act in accordance with that belief.

This disconnect between what a person claims and what they do causes mistrust. People make statements about what they believe in many ways other than directly speaking. When we identify with a group, we communicate that our beliefs are similar to the groups. When we like a social media post, we are telling other people what we believe. The places we go, the things we own, and the way we treat people who can’t do anything for us tell those around us much about ourselves.

People intuitively discern when someone’s claims don’t match their actions. They may not be able to quantify or even vocalize it, but they can feel it. This is a bad feeling. However, the reverse is also true. When you get close to someone, you start to notice what they do, and that tells you what they believe. If those two things match, the feeling is good.

That brings me back to the thing I need to remember every day…

What I believe and what I desire determines the way I will act. As a corollary, I need to pay attention to the way other people act and spend time with those whose actions align with the beliefs and desires that match mine. I need to pick people to do life with who will support and encourage me to be the best version of myself.

That was what was happening Friday night. The people that gathered to celebrate with Farooq were all friends who had experienced his beliefs through the way he treated them and walked through life with them. Farooq’s most basic belief is simple; he loves and respects people, and he spends himself on them daily. He wants other people to flourish, and he is willing to invest himself in them to help make that happen. Farooq doesn’t talk about his beliefs much; he just acts them out every day.

So, in a converted theatre on a Friday night, a couple hundred people gathered to acknowledge the actions we all see in our friend. His love and care and respect, borne out in a million words and deeds, large and small, inspire us. His latest act of kindness was to make 50 pieces of art for his fiftieth birthday and then donate them to be auctioned that night to raise over $60K for two non-profits. By the way, every piece was inspired by a woman who impacted his life, and every piece has “Blossom” in the name because that is his wife’s name. That’s a very Farooq thing to do.

What I believe about myself and about others matters. It matters because what I believe and what I desire will absolutely determine my actions. If my desires are selfish and self-serving, then my actions will be selfish and self-serving. If my desires are other-oriented, then my actions will build up the people around me. It may be over simplistic, but that sounds like a community I want to be a part of. I want to be around people who invest in everyone winning, in everyone flourishing, in everyone being valued.

My friend Farooq believes that you are valuable and worthy of his love and respect. If you are blessed to know him or someone like him, your life is richer. I believe that too. I am grateful that I have friends like Farooq and a community that believes in the intrinsic and equal value of everyone. This rare blossom of friendship and value is an encouraging and supportive way to do life, and it is the Kimray Way.