Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The indignity of giving

Christmas season is almost a month behind now. there were certain things which I couldn't but notice during that time. Christmas season being the season of love, joy, sharing, caring and giving and all that… (Personally, I think every day should be a season of all that. At least we take out time to be 'nice' and to celebrate 'niceness' once a year.) What I observed during the season of 'giving' and before that in my work really made me think about of giving…


Why do we give? What motivates our giving? When a beggar comes knocking on your car window why do you feel uneasy? Do you give or don't you? If you do, why? And if you don't, why? When you drive past a slum, you just want to drive past it quickly. When you do slow down and stop to see, the sight makes you uncomfortable… Forces you to do something about it. To do something about it quickly. A loose change, a quick handout. Your heart is at peace. Or is it?


More often than not, the giving is done more for the sake of easing our conscience. To make us feel good about ourselves.


There are some who give in order to feel good about themselves. AND there are those who give to let others know how good they are. Sometimes, giving becomes a marketing strategy. Marketing strategy for fund-raising. More money is spent on organizing the gift-giving event than on the gifts itself.


One-size-fits-all giving is another way to give. There is no thought put into giving. There is no understanding of what the receiver needs. This is sort of easy to do. Just go to some place, buy stuff in bulk (you save on the cost of giving this way!), and give. Better still, handout money. That is easier. There is no need to worry about what the money is being used for.


And then there is the expert-giver. "I know what you need. I have done my research I have observed your condition. I'm here to better your standard of living (to that of mine). So I will give you something that I would use, even if it is irrelevant in your situation."


Honestly, what motivates you to give?


Note: 'I', 'you' and 'we' are used interchangeably here. I am talking to myself as much as to the readers. This is a post just to provoke thought.


And oh, there is a part 2 to this...

9 comments:

JollyRoger said...

I give because I feel guilty I cant do anything else. Wonderful post, made me a lil uneasy reading it.

Pensativo said...

Well Giving for me depends on the need of the person we are giving it to.I give when I feel like giving that person.

Sandy Carlson said...

Bungi,
Last night I worked on a post for tomorrow that addresses the same topic.

This is a thought-provoking post. I think it's remarkable how quick people are to offer advice like "get a job" to people in need. Why does poverty make us so uncomfortable? Or why does it make the prosperous uncomfortable?

PurpleHeart said...

I never offer money to anyone who begs for it, no matter how much they fall over my car. But I have this feel-good thing about buying a pack of bread or bananas for those elderly, dwelling on the cold streets, outside a temple. And yea, I don't bribe God too. :) It's a different story when it comes to giving anything to people in your life. But otherwise, I don't seem to be much of a giver ! :)

Ryan said...

I give because I care. Other times I give because I am obligated to give.

My friends really chose to change the tradition of Christmas this past season. Read about it here:
http://benjaminandholly.blogspot.com/2008/01/christmas-with-kladders.html

The Mahathma said...

come near my car ! and ill run u over

Julie Layne said...

Sometimes I give from guilt--especially when buying gifts for people just because I know they're getting me something. :-O Horrible...

As far as charitable giving--

Usually from habit (tithing, and my husband writes the check, so it hardly phases me so maybe doesn't even count!)

Sometimes from guilt.

Often from some emotional connection to the situation at hand.

Finally, and even when I don't really feel like it, because of the reminder "the poor will always be with us."

Where's part 2?

Bungi said...

JR - Thank you. Thinking about this made me uneasy too... Like i said, this was for me as much as for my readers.

Pensativo - Ummm... My question would be how do you know what the other person needs?

Sandy - True. Those questions do make us ponder. Haven't been in the blog world for quite some time now. Will hop over to read it.

Sandhya - Oftentimes we equate giving with only giving material stuff, but i think there is more to it...

Ryan - Hmmm... I don't know what to say... Yeah. Not a bad reason to give, hey? I do like your friend's idea...

Mahathma - I shall be scared. Very scared...

Julie - Yeah... I hear you... But i think giving is a good discipline to have... Just to remind us that it is not all ours actually.

Bungi said...

Julie - And oh, the second part is in the making... :-) Thanks for holding me accountable.