Approximately 25 years ago (in March 2020), we did a customer/reader survey. I asked what you like to read on the blog & one of the respondents suggested a post on "living generously". What a fabulous idea and perfect for this time in history!
[The title of this post implies some kind of authority or expertise — ha! Nope, no experts here... just some thoughts on generosity from a fellow human, trying to make my way!]
Spoiler alert: Not myself!
Generosity reflects a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected. It is a quality that we can pursue — a goal that can motivate our actions & thoughts.
But, like other characteristics like "funny", "cool", or "fun", I don't really think "being generous" is a label we can attribute to ourselves! Only other people determine whether or not you are generous (imo).
It's easy to claim that something is important, that it is a value. But, the reality of our true priorities are revealed by how we spend our Time, Energy, Attention, & Money ("TEAM" helps me remember this!).
Generosity with time may look like:
Generosity with energy may look like:
Generosity with attention may look like:
Generosity with money may look like:
Beyond the generosity with material possessions & our priorities in time and energy, I think that what we truly need, most of all, right now, is a generosity of spirit.
We are at an unprecedented time in history. Unprecedented, of course, in our lived experiences; but, also: we've never before seen this level of extreme divisiveness in the conversations, media, politics, & overall public response to the global pandemic (among other current crises!).
There are jokes, there are opinion articles, there are memes, there are Twitter threads... and most of them are imbued with a spirit of dismissiveness.
Dismissing others, dismissing other POVs, dismissing any aspects of the topic-at-hand that are outside of the particular, argued opinion.
Sometimes, I am overwhelmed with hopelessness. How will we fight for common ground? For shared humanity? Have we forgotten nuance and complexity? How will we resist our own echo chambers?
Again, generosity is a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected. Culturally, what is expected is: to give no credibility to others' opinions and points of view. What is expected is: that many things we believe are self-evident and other people with divergent opinions are idiots who need to catch up. What is necessary, culturally, in dialogue, is: almost nothing. Not politeness, not listening, not decency towards other human beings.
So, in this regard, generosity can look very simple. For example, reading a comment from someone (a friend, a family member, a neighbor, a politician) that you disagree with, and not thinking the worst about them. Our internal thoughts: that is what I mean by a generosity of spirit.
Living generously will flow out of feeling & thinking with generosity. Actions will begin to flow from what is internal.
Is living generously a challenge? Is it worth it? What examples have you seen in others whom you would consider "generous"? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or email email@example.com
This week, I posted on my personal Facebook page about Amazon's Prime Day, with some stats that bothered me.
A thoughtful friend commented with honesty,
"Could you share some more of your insights about Amazon. I don’t disagree that their model is terrible but I also haven’t been convinced enough to forgo the crazy convenience of it.
Help convince me!"
Here is the response I posted.
Colleen sent in this message:
Hi, love the items and have purchased several.
Question: last week I had put a classic throw in my cart and then shopped for another and placed in my cart as well and when I went to complete the purchase, they were marked as sold and unavailable.
How does this work? Was extremely disappointed!
I completely understand — what a disappointment! Let's talk more about this...
(Photo courtesy of Friends of Basha)
Reflections from my experience visiting a Brothel in Bangladesh
As impossible as it is for me to believe now, earlier in 2020 I flew around the world. The primary objective was to visit Bangladesh and see, in person, the life-changing work in which dignify has had the privilege to participate over these past 8 years.