“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness”
Martin Luther King
“That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.”
Simone de Beauvoir
On a day when the British Census has been released, showing an apparent decline in organised religions, one wonders whether this means we are less virtuous or less giving as a nation.
There are too many religious divides in this world. We see it now with what is happening throughout the world; in places like Palestine and Israel. We’ve witnessed it in our country too with terrorism and tensions between people of different faiths and different denominations within one faith.
Yet, many of the world religions unite under certain themes and certain values. Generosity is one of those values.
Some may interpret generosity as a means to an end – with that end being an eternal life in “Paradise” or “Heaven”. Others look at the benefits in our existing lives. Many point to the fact that if we are generous with our time, thoughts, money and consideration for others, we too will benefit.
In the Prayer of St. Francis, he says “For it is in giving that we receive.”
Lao Tzu says, “The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”
In Proverbs, in the Old Testament, the books of Christianity and Judaism say, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.”
In the Quran, there’s a passages that says, “Indeed, an ignorant man who is generous is dearer to God than a worshipper who is miserly.”
In the New Testament, in the book of Acts, it says, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
True generosity is giving without expectation of anything in return. In being generous, we find something of ourselves that is far more precious than anything that we give to others. Generosity is whole. If you are truly generous, you put others’ needs and wishes before your own – and in doing so your own needs are somehow discovered, even though they may be contrary to what you thought you wanted or needed. As the quote at the top of this post says, we have a choice – to be the altruistic giver or the person who selfishly considers their own needs above and beyond the needs of others.