Giving when we can – even in hard times
Dear Readers, I wrote the original version of this article in the aftermath years of the 2007-2009 global recession. It has been updated for post-Covid recovery.
We humans know that we are extraordinary creatures. We experience emotions galore.
Psychologist Paul Ekman in his research, stated that there are six basic emotions: sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.
According to the Harper Collins dictionary, the emotion list is much longer: acceptance, affection, aggression, ambivalence, apathy, anxiety, boredom, compassion, confusion, contempt, depression, doubt, ecstasy, empathy, envy, embarrassment, euphoria, forgiveness, frustration, gratitude, grief, guilt, hatred, hope, horror, hostility, homesickness, hunger, hysteria, interest, loneliness, love, paranoia, pity, pleasure, pride, rage, regret, remorse, shame, suffering and sympathy.
Amazingly, any of these emotions can change our mood and our psyche in an instant!
What we don’t see in this enormous list is the concept of giving.
Is love considered giving to another? Compassion? Sympathy? Gratitude? Empathy?
Perhaps, but charitable people often give endlessly to people they’ve never met, don’t even know, and may not even like.
Conversely, countless individuals as recipients of a gift absolutely resist being the getter, to being obligated to someone.
Where did giving come from? Our natures, our traditions, our culture, mass media advertising, peer pressure?
Do we give to make ourselves feel good, primarily, or is it the other way around?
I think we give for all those reasons above, but even more because:
• We are civilised
• We are principled moral beings
• We believe in the greater good for our society
• It is the right thing to do
• We give without expecting reciprocity
• It makes us feel far, far better about ourselves.
Many of us also give because the gift comes from the heart and the soul.
After all, the definition of civilisation is “a human society that has highly developed material and spiritual resources and a complex cultural, political, and legal organisation, an advanced state in social development”.
Bermuda islanders are certainly people and community collectively who have achieved such a state of intellectual, cultural, and moral refinement.
Giving back is a life mission for philanthropists and their families. They have been given so much, whether inherited or through their own endeavours and now they are employing those resources to help individuals, communities to improve world health, to target climate change, to enhance financial literacy and so much more – all for the greater good.
Who does not know of the Warren Buffett Giving Pledge derived by Melinda and Bill Gates, where billionaires agree to generously donate at least half of their wealth and fortune to philanthropy?
They are to be respected and applauded for their service to humanity. And, we are so grateful to them.
We ordinary folks also give when we can. The holidays are more stressful, though, because of the great emphasis placed on the ability to provide gifts.
How can we not participate in giving?
Even if we are not in the mood, cannot afford it, or have given all that can be given, we are incessantly reminded that it is that time of year. The time when subliminally, certain expectations are asked of us, from ourselves, our family, our friends, our neighbours, and our community.
We cannot completely avoid the peer pressure of these expectations, for to do so completely is the beginning of a slide into isolation.
So, we move with the crowd, more or less in step, stressed and often embarrassed about how to handle ourselves when financial circumstances arise that severely limit our giving ability, a situation that is very real for many families in this pandemic wind-down.
Are purchased gifts better than those that are not bought even though both are chosen with tremendous thought and sincerity?
We should not even be asking, which has more value: precious jewellery, electronics, a loaf of homemade bread or cassava, two hours spent cleaning up your elderly neighbour’s home, the contribution of your vital blood, the donation of a body organ, endangering oneself in saving others in precipitous accidents, or the greatest gift of all – giving one’s own life in service to country, saving democracy itself.
We should never allow ourselves to fall for the trap of mercenary reasoning or the “what will people think?”
It should never matter, at all, what the value of the gift – but rather that the gift given expresses the sincere caring intention of the giver.
Never, ever, be ashamed about a gift that comes from your heart and soul.
This holiday season take care of yourselves, celebrate wellness and a return to normalcy. Be so very glad for home and family!
A blessed holiday to you all, dear readers.
Some holiday music for you from me.
An enlightened, invigorating original composition of just “feel good music” from Jon Batiste and the album, We Are: I Need You. He is a musical genius from a multigenerational family of musical New Orleans great. In his young career, he has already received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Bafta Film Award and Grammy nominations and awards.
After 40 years, Abba released an anthem for love, life, and loss that can feel like a message of moving forward after Covid. “I still have faith in you – and we still have it in us, We do have it in us, New spirit has arrived, The joy and the sorrow, We have a story and it survived.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAzEY1MfXrQ
And especially for those who have been able to finally come home – to beloved family, relatives, friends, community in Bermuda to celebrate Christmas in “the land that we love so well”, here is the link to the Celtic Tenors. It’s an emotional Irish anthem, applicable for any homecoming – no crying now!
Wikipedia: Paul Eckman (87), an American psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions.
• Martha Harris Myron, a native Bermudian with US connections, is a qualified international cross-border financial planner, the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, a Google News Contributor since 2016, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Bermuda Ltd., and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated by The Royal Gazette to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org