I had an argument with someone recently about ‘giving’. I am a giving person. Man, that must be the only reason sometimes I stay in this Humanitarian game.
Sure, giving is not necessarily altruistic. You get a thrill from “giving”…even if it is in the ego-ballooning sense. Except that it was also drilled into my head from an early age “you give because you want to give, not because you want something back in return”.
So I give. I try. Sometime this means I also expect friends to step up to the plate when I need to do some taking, but often I try not to expect. (Apparently this is a problem. Is it???)
I help out where I can, if I can. Financially. Emotionally. Logistically. Intellectually. If I have the means, then I do not see why not.
And this is where the argument started. This chickie told me I give too much. And I exhaust myself. And often people in my life just take. And don’t give back. And expect to keep taking from me. This is the norm that I teach them. And, she argues, I have to change this.
I hate the idea of that. It almost makes me feel ill.
I argue that my close friends give to me. And don’t expect anything back. And some acquaintances will go out of their way for me when they realise I hope to do the same for them. Friends give me lifts to holidays, meals, love and support, ice cream or champagne (then I REALLY love them). They answer their phones at 3am when I am hating the world and want to talk, and I am one of the few people they’d do that for. Acquaintances help get me jobs or connections, or look out for me & my security.
I’d hate to take this lady’s lesson, and stop giving. Because it seems too selfish. If everyone just gave a bit more, of whatever, then everyone would smile a bit more. Yes, one of those sweet silly Idealists, I know.
But it’s like that move, “Pay It Forward”. If you do a good thing for someone, and then they have to in turn do a good thing for two people who have to do a good thing for 2 more people.
Whether it’s smiling at someone you walk past. Asking the lady behind the till how her day is going. Giving forty bucks to the woman cleaning the toilets of a club you paid R60 to get into (before drinks). Helping a friend move their furniture even when they aren’t even in town. Getting the bill for the cocktails you and your mate just enjoyed. Sitting with a colleague and teaching them excel. Ensuring you get to an acquaintance’s birthday party even when it’s freezing and far away. Spending a Friday night turning down an invite out to have dinner with your folks cause you haven’t seen them in a week and you know it would make your dad’s day.
Do I just take it to far these days? Or should I hold onto my idealism for as long as possible and fight the norm?