Monday, June 20, 2011

“Generosity Versus Stinginess”

            Recently, I’ve concluded people fall into two general categories—generous and stingy. Don’t judge me as simplistic or naïve with this dichotomy, but think about it. Generous people give freely. They volunteer their time to programs and individuals without thought. They open their homes and their hearts to stray cats or displaced teenagers. They shelter the feelings of their friends with consistent care. They lavish the world with their open spirits and unguarded natures. Generous souls give before being asked. They intuit problems and spontaneously offer help. They never expect anything in return for their kindness, and they often downplay their deeds. These compassionate people share their experiences and their expertise, but don’t feel offended if their advice gets left instead of taken. These thoughtful people view the world with hope and want to help others not because it gives them bragging rights, not because it’s an obligation, not because they’re forced into it, not because it makes them take a superior role—but because they believe it in the rightness of giving. Generosity doesn’t come with a dollar bill attached since many of these people give themselves.
            The opposite type of person idolizes Scrooge. Stingy people withhold everything. I wonder if they’re constantly constipated! Their lives certainly reflect their selfish natures. These people become exclusive instead of inclusive. Fearful of “outsiders” that offer differences, they cling to mirror images of themselves. They do not tolerate variations in religions, customs, values or status. These people share, but only with strings attached. They want something in return—affection, approval, acclamation, adoration. They become offended if their advice and experiences are ignored, and abandon anyone who doesn’t grovel in supplication like an orphan from Oliver Twist. These people give money freely if they can make certain their generosity receives ample recognition. They sincerely believe that people who are less fortunate “get what they deserve.”
            Relationships begin with sharing. You give bits and pieces of yourself to another person to create a bond. Relationships require reciprocation. I share. You share. You share. I share. If the other person hoards feelings, reveals falsehoods, or only takes and never gives; the opportunity for closeness fades and dies. Even a generous heart cannot give forever without nourishment.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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