The other day I was at Starbucks putting just the right amount of cream and raw sugar into my short Blonde roast. Yummy. As I was stirring the sugar in, I noticed a man standing in front of me. He looked like the nicest guy in the world and he was wearing the coolest shirt – It said ‘I love Newton, CT.’ I told him I liked his shirt and wondered where he got it. He told me that he gave to the families of the victims of Sandy Hook and in return, they gave him this cool t-shirt. I told him that was great and I thanked him for giving. He seemed like the kinda guy who would have given regardless of receiving a gift in return.
So why did he get one? Why did the organization who received his donation feel the need to give him a shirt in exchange for his generosity? Couldn’t we have used the money spent on the t’s toward the victim’s families? Then my mind wondered more. Why do we give? Do we only give if we get to tell other people about it or receive a cool t-shirt in order to entice conversation from the cute coffee addict stirring sugar in her coffee? What if we gave with no expectation of a tax refund? Would we still give? Is it really giving if we are getting something in return? Isn’t that more of an exchange? Okay, sorry. I’m done asking you questions.
I started to think really deeply about this. Not to toot my own horn, but I would like to think that I would give for the hell of it-because I love people and I love helping those who cannot help themselves. But what if it hurt to do it? Are we giving selfishly? Doh! There I go with the questions again. It looks like I have more questions than answers on this topic.
I realized that all giving in some way is selfish. Now, now, before you gasp, allow me to explain. Selfish is a bad word to me. But let’s change what selfish means. At the end of the day, we all function in a mode of self-preservation. So, in reality, we’re made to be selfish. Now, if we think about the way we feel when we give to people, we would have to say that it’s a good feeling. We enjoy it. We give because it makes us feel good to help other people. It’s the best of both worlds. Someone’s life is better and we’re a little happier. And I would be so brave as to say that it is in our nature to want to give and/or help people. Those of us who fulfill our natural, instinctual ‘obligations’ are healthier human beings.
So, my dearies, don’t be a Scrooge. Give. It’s built into our DNA. And do you really want to defy what you’re born to do? I don’t think so.