Devoting your life to giving
So on Saturday i went to this permaculture festival and there was Charles Eisenstein giving a talk. After seeing several posts of Jordan recommending his books I definitely had to check this talk out (I haven’t yet read the books). Prior to this I had several deep conversations with close friends about redefining the word ‘success.’ A quote from Weston Price’s book, which is a quote originally from the Gospel of the Red Man sums it up for me nicely, “The culture and civilisation of the White man are essentially material; his measure of success is, “How much property have I acquired for myself?” The culture of the Red man is fundamentally spiritual; his measure of success is, “How much service have I rendered to my people?”
So anyway in Eisenstein’s talk he mentioned a lot about giving and the gift economy. That then led me to wonder what my life would look like if I devoted it to giving. It also led to me asking what the best ways of giving were, especially with the technology currently available. And to how far I could actually give (once all my material possessions are given away, then what should I give? Time? Presence? Forgiveness?)
So HighExistence, what would your life look like if you devoted it to giving?
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@mailliam, “How much service I have rendered to my people.” In my opinion, I don’t necessarily think that means donating to charities. I think it speaks more to how useful you are in your community–whether that be how diligently you do your job or perhaps taking some time and doing a little community service.
In other words: I don’t think this is talking about how many material goods you give during your life, but rather how much of your heart you put into being a good person in every aspect of your life.
There’s a man in my community who donates a ton of his time orchestrating the maintenance and use of biking trails in the area. He volunteers doing this and works very hard. I respect him for it, he’s doing wonderful things for “his people” :)
A friend of mine is a skilled bike mechanic and ski/snowboard fixer, and has fixed my bike up for me many times without asking anything in return. He does these things for “his people”.
I’m a giver myself, I like to help someone out, make someone’s day better, I do it whenever I get the chance. I do not donate monetarily to any charity because I can’t afford to, most people can’t. Sometimes it’s just about giving someone a hug, smile, make them dinner, give a massage, whatever you’re capable of, just showing the love :)
I believe that like everything in live, balance works best. However there is difference between simply working for a wage in order for you and your family to survive, and simply attempting to acquire a high degree of assets – something very much imbedded in our neo – liberal social structure and should effectively be tackled in order for greed and inequality to be negated. I believe, and I would do so myself, people who make more money then to sustain themselves – to eat, to have shelter, transport and other me other comfort inducing machinery – they should give it away. In fact, if all humans were wired this way, rathe r then having to be imposed on us much like in a socialist state, then the world would be a substantially better place to live. Bill gates for example – is a genius of our modern capitalistic world – not because he made a lot of money, but because he gave it away – as it was not necessary for his survival – but rather for his social status and likelihood of mating (which I would impose was not much of a concern for him) and nothing else.
Compassion is also a human need – which is why people refer to the gift economy in the first place – and people are forgetting to supplement that need, or are applying selective compassion – e.g. Providing for the family unit, or disregarding some but not others. I think this should be stopped, as we should all be equally blessed with love and belonging, and no one person should ever be disenfranchised by another, simply because it provides them with a financial advantage. We are no longer mere mammals.
@mskisa, Ah intentions is a funny issue. My intentions are *always* correct, because they are my intentions, and therefore subjective. Hitler obviously thought his intentions were correct, otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did. But this is a another discussion.
In answer to your response to my initial question, what makes you not live that way?
@donjaime23, yes I agree with that, however I remember Eisenstein speaking about material goods for hunter-gatherer societies, explaining how it was a burden for them to have material goods because the only material things that were worth something would have been food, which would go bad eventually so they had to give it away. Do you think you could live a life devoted to giving while still keeping material possessions beyond your need?
@wesleyleigh, Why do you think people don’t give it away? You sort of hinted that you thought it was because we are wired this way. Today I actually started reading Eisenstein’s book Sacred Economics and he talks about how scarcity has been implemented into the money we use, and so rather than it being human nature for us to be greedy it is this scarcity that makes us hold onto our money, even if we have a lot (compared to others).
I’m an avid nutrition enthusiast, so I would devote my life to promoting nutrition! I think if I was able to eventually get a degree and some influence I would work to improve nutrition in hospitals, because good nutrition is very healing to the body.
@mailliam, i think people would like to give to charities, and do, but they often do it to even out the neglect in their universe – to make them feel good in light of some not so good things they have done in their life, for instance disregarding global warming, not recycling etc. we all live in this balancing act, and are prone to incentives which lend towards making us both seem and feel like better people (this is why giving brings happiness). and your right, it is probably a feeling of scarcity, or possibly the wealth being a symbol of achievement, and so it can be hard for some, but if your making 9 million a year average, where is the humanity in sparing it, even if its so your descendant don’t have to face struggle in life? i’ve heard of that book, since I’m well into my economics study i’ll definitely have to read it some time.
I think it is possible to walk the ‘white man’s’ and ‘red man’s’ path, why should the earning of money and gaining of possessions be looked down upon or thought of as evil if these things are gained with the correct intentions? If I want to earn 100k a year in order to provide for myself and the people I hold dear, and be able to donate 10-20% of my income to charity and buy some electrolux appliances and give food and clothing to those who need it in my community, should my intentions be considered ‘wrong’?
If my life was devoted solely to giving I would have already given away all my material possessions and I would spend time with the homeless and volunteer at food banks and spend time with the elderly.
I expect my job/business/profession to be beneficial to others or it wouldn’t buy/use/etc it and I wouldn’t make money.. I will then spend money on things I value.
Just remember what you are supporting when you choose an action or buy something.