Been Thinking About Generosity Lately.


Actually, generosity is something I’ve thought about for some time now, and it’s something that I believe there is too little of out there.  I suppose this could be said of pretty much anything we tend to think of as a “good” thing, but generosity these days, in my opinion at least, seems to be becoming more and more rare.

Don’t get me wrong… I am not saying that people don’t show other people kindness each and every day; I think they do!  And it’s beautiful, but how often do we freely give of ourselves and expect nothing in return?  How often do we go out of our own way to do something for someone other than ourselves?  Sure it’s easy to loan a few bucks here and there, to give someone a ride when you’re both headed the same way, to let someone borrow one of your things for a bit, but it seems like anytime the cost starts to creep up, the trip starts to get a little too long, or the inconvenience a little too inconvenient we automatically start to expect something in return.

To little do we see acts of pure, selfless, giving with absolutely zero expectation of getting something in return: an I.O.U, a return of favor, a guilt trip to be able to leverage, a better reputation, recognition… Even the “pay-it-forward” philosophy, although undeniably a truly good thing, inherently has the expectation that because I did something for you, you now need or should go do something for someone else.  It saddens me that the question as to whether or not altruism actually exists can even be posed, but it speaks to how infrequently selflessness is modeled in our actions.

Is there such a thing as selfless giving, or is there always an ulterior motive?

Is there such a thing as doing good for no other reason than simply to do good, or is there always a warm fuzzy feeling deep down that we are selfishly seeking to satisfy?

Perhaps you disagree with me, and you’re entitled to, but I truly, deep down believe that it is possible to give freely of oneself, and of one’s own time, and of one’s own possessions, for no other reason than to help out someone else.

My hope is that the reason generosity is less and less apparent is because it is truly selfless, truly altruistic, truly benevolent, and seeks not to be boasted of, only freely given.

Anonymity is the truest expression of altruism. – Eric Gibson

I somehow find this unlikely.

I suppose, though, no matter what the motivation behind helping out our fellow-man is,  as long as it is well intended, it is always a kindly thing to do, yeah? So… Does altruism exist? A better question might be, does it matter?

If we are loaning a helping hand, taking part in good-natured service, offering a charitable gift, does it REALLY  matter what our personal motivations behind it are? (Not exactly the same question, I know, but…)

I still think that it does.  I think that the motivations behind our actions say a lot about ourselves and about human nature, and for that reason I think that whatever it is driving us to behave a certain way needs to be coming from the right place.  I think that too much of the world is consumed by self-interest, and I would challenge you to graciously give of yourself more often, as I hope to.

As always, my intention in writing this never was and never will be to bum you out!  The last thing I want to do is leave you riled up or pessimistic.  Rather I challenge you play an even bigger role in making this world the incredible place that it is.

Anyway, enough about what I think. I would love to hear what anyone reading this has to say (if there are any of you.)  I am after all young and naive, and not especially wise…  -JG

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2 Comments

  1. I think the fuzzy feeling we get when we help people is irrelevant (just an added bonus for us), though I always used to wonder about this myself. But I guess as long as your intention is to help someone without expecting to get something in return, the satisfaction it gives you shouldn’t really matter!? Like you say if generosity is limited maybe we shouldn’t question it in a negative way.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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