Sunday, June 26, 2016
GIVING AND RECEIVING
I went to the Internet in search of the answer to a question I’d been pondering: Is it better to give than to receive? Of course I already knew what conventional wisdom would suggest, given the number of people who say: “It is better to give than to receive”, including a lot of people who probably don’t even know they’re paraphrasing the Bible, Acts 20-35. Normally I don’t get too bothered making comparisons between things like giving and receiving, but I seem to have been doing a lot of receiving lately, and it occurred to me to wonder: Am I really making a lot of people happy? Take this past week for example. Amy brought flowers and Anne brought jam and chili sauce. Mike strummed his intoxicating jazz until every nerve in my body was sighing in blissful contentment. John and Grace inconvenienced themselves considerably so that I could go to a party and David could get a ride to a memorial service. Bev carried my groceries and made an extra trip to return things I left in her car. Brother John gave up a morning so we could get a massage. Alamo reorganized his schedule so that we could attend a barbecue. All of these cheerful givers said, “Oh, it was nothing. We were happy to do it.” So you can’t blame me for wondering if they were happier to do it than I was to have it done. I asked Lawrence to give me his opinion on the matter last Thursday, while he waited for his dad to get ready so he could drive us to exercise class. “It’s better to give than to receive,” he declared in a no-nonsense tone. “Are you saying you are happier driving us to exercise class than you would be if I drove you to exercise class?” I asked. “Mother, you are blind and I definitely would not want you to drive me anywhere,” he said. “Besides,” he added, “That saying doesn’t apply to family. You give to family because you give to family.” Not entirely satisfied with this as the definitive last word, I turned to the Internet where thousands, possibly millions of opinions awaited me. I began by ruling out a few contributions. I did not, for example, accept the opinion of those complaining about paying taxes unless they had signed a declaration that they would forego all publicly funded services, including roads and health care. I don’t know why I excluded them, except that they always annoy me. I excluded all sermons written by ministers who were seeking money for their respective churches, which accounted for pretty well all the sermons given on the topic. It seemed disingenuous that they were asking people to make themselves happy by giving when what they wanted was to receive. I excluded all articles that mentioned Christmas, because giving at Christmas is an unavoidable institution as much as a generosity. After all was settled, I had unearthed this conclusion about donor happiness: “The overarching conclusion is that donors feel happiest if they give to a charity via a friend, relative or social connection rather than simply making an anonymous donation to a worthy cause.” Therese J. Borchard http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/12/22/how-giving-makes-us-happy/ And I got a little lecture on accepting what is offered: “Do not ask people NOT to give you a gift – this is the same as telling them you do not need their help when they offer it – you deprive them of the joy they get from the giving of the gift and shut down the energy flowing between you.” http://psy-chick.net/sacredness-of-giving/ Finally, a comment on asking for help: “he ability to ask for and accept help is a deeply human gesture, a recognition of the truth that no person can manage alone. The giver may appear to be self-sufficient, but we are all parts of an interconnected web, and to receive is to acknowledge this eternal truth about all of us.” Rabbi David Wolpe http://time.com/4353514/receiving/ As for my question about whether it is better to give than to receive, well, the jury is still out.