Chapter 6.7 Generosity


How many things have you accomplished lately that no one else knows?  Have you made some generous action that is your little secret?

“What is called generosity is usually only the vanity of giving; we enjoy the vanity more than the thing given.”
Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680)    French Classical Author

As I dwell on this action of Generosity, it comes to mind that people need action models, positive action models. It’s kind of a paradox.  The people who are doing things for others … quietly … we’ll never know much about them.

“It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favor but to be ready to do kindness to others.”
Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC)     Ancient Greek Philosopher,

Yet these quiet ones are the true souls of humanity, those that are giving, helping, and sacrificing … with their only reward being the appreciation from the recipients of their good deeds.  These people need to be our ‘action models’.

Ours is a society that encourages people to want to be like someone else.  Be one of the rich and snooty.  Be a famous performer or sports stud. Be on the cover of a fashion magazine. Be the next rock star or musical genius. For a lot of people just knowing someone famous would be enough, as if your acquaintance makes you somebody. We are encouraged to dress and look and buy and act like people we would like to be.

“You have to remember that when you are a performer you become a celebrity, but you are not saving lives. It’s not that important.”
Victoria Beckham     English Singer, Spice Girls

(Even from the mouth of babes …)

I have to admire the many celebrities (a.k.a. someone who has made the news) who have taken the genuine plunge into Generosity.  These are the role models that can lead more people to giving.

Of course, they got rich first …  at least they are giving back, making some small segments of the world a little better.  How many rich people, very rich people, truly use their resources and power to make a positive change that improves the world? How many just give because they can get a tax break? And then, how many simply indulge themselves and their friends? Generosity is the cure for Greed.

“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”
Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)     Chinese Founder of Taoism

Now Generosity is one positive action that I know I need to work on, partly due to my upbringing.  My father was one of the generation that lived through the Great Depression.  He started selling newspapers when he was five years old … his dad correctly said that people would be more apt to buy their morning paper from a cute little child.  (Note: This era was before home delivery, even before corner newspaper coin machines, and certainly before news online.)  The Depression created a group of people that were very frugal and protective of their funds.

We kids learned to get the less expensive item. We learned to save our money.  And we learned how to bargain, although it embarrassed us to do it. I still will often analyze whether I really need something.  Can I just do without?  Is it a waste of money?

“If you buy cheap meat, when it boils, you smell what you have saved.”
Arabian Proverb

Thank goodness my wife continues to teach me how to let go of those dollars … I didn’t realize that they would become obsolete if we kept them too long (I’m starting to understand it better through foreign currency exchange.)   In all truthfulness, my wife has helped me to become more generous, to aid those in need, to give a little extra.  I still have a lot more work ahead of me in this area.

“We need to help younger people recognize their own capacity to do good and help them discover the rewards of generosity.”
Bill Clinton     42nd president USA

Now I’m no philanthropist.  I’m not really rich financially. We have plenty, a good life, and we have a lot more than many others.  The first big question is: “Where do we start?”  There are so many people in need throughout the world that picking one is over-whelming. We place help in abeyance and Generosity in the I’ll-get-to-it-tomorrow file.

“You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it is a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.”
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)     German Missionary and Philosopher

The simple answer is to help anywhere, any way possible.  Help in something that pulls your interest.  We can’t all be ‘Doctors Without Borders.’ But we can all give.

In Bill Clinton’s book “Giving“, he outlines many ways to give of ourselves … Giving money, Giving time, Giving things, Giving skills, Giving good ideas, Giving model gifts, and many, many more ways to Give.   I particularly like the ‘Giving-of gifts-that-keep-on-Giving-over-time’ class of gifts, that which provides tools and livestock. With monetary donations, I like charities where more than 90% of my gift goes to the actual need (maybe 85% now in recessionary times.)

“In charity there is no excess.”
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)     English Philosopher, Lawyer

When we help, we engage positive energy for assistance. In the U.S. and around the world, many people in poverty will die … they will starve or succumb to disease.  But any help is never in vain.  Sometimes the small time that someone is included in a person’s 150 is sufficient for him or her to know that genuine humanity exists, that the world does nurture some good.  It may give them hope, strength, and perhaps direction.

“The poor don’t know that their function in life is to exercise our generosity.”
Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980)     French Philosopher

I’m not sure where I will be led to give and help more, but I’m sure that opportunities will arise.  I need to be open and receptive and willing to turn off my Me-World for a while and participate.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you  truly give.”
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)     Lebanese-American Poet


4 Responses to “Chapter 6.7 Generosity”

  1. Ursula Says:

    I smiled and even laughed when I read a chapter about Generosity – especially when I read “thank goodness my wife continues to teach me how to let go of those dollars.” I found it very touching when you wrote: ” In all truthfulness, my wife has helped me to become more generous.”
    What I like about your Follow D’Light is that I can read certain chapters depending on my moods and I always find something in them which gives me some courage or hope. Thanks – keep going.

  2. greencat3 Says:

    I especially like that you made the connection between giving and positive energy. It’s true! When you do something positive, it energizes you. I will even go on to say that when I do a lot of spending on fun things (ie. things I don’t necessarily need to survive) I can feel the energy sucked out of me; drained, just like my pocketbook. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

  3. alpinerainn Says:

    I learned so much about the subject of generosity from Carolyn Myss in her book, “Invisible Acts of Power”. She explains in great detail how our generosity is directly proportional to our level of spiritual evolvement. For example, those who are among the lowly evolved (ie: operating from a position of fear) will give cans of food at X-mas because it is anonymous (safe). As we evolve, we begin to be able to look at the homeless person in the eyes and give them respect…which is more important to them than the dollar we hand them.

    • papadlight Says:

      Powerful words that cut the edge between giving and a commitment to being generous … getting outside the me-world.

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