On Giving and Sharing

In my previous post I talked a little about giving vs. sharing in the context of poverty and what to do about it. I’ve been thinking about it more since I wrote it, and I think there’s something to the idea.

It’s very grand and dramatic to be constantly giving all you’ve got. In many ways it’s what we’re “supposed” to do. I also hear frequent praise of people who never take but always give. The dirty little secret is that if all you do is give, you will run out of resources to give, be they material or emotional.

Sharing, photo by FuriousGeorge81 on Flickr
Sharing, photo by FuriousGeorge81 on Flickr

Giving is uni-directional. It comes with power politics, careful tallies,  assumed rights, and often times a very high horse. Giving has to be paired with taking.  So maybe the key is to not be focused on giving so much as on sharing.

Sharing flows in all directions. It doesn’t worry about tallying up everyone’s contributions. When it’s done openly and sensitively, it can just keep on going. At risk of using ambiguous jargon, it’s sustainable.

Thinking about life in general through the “sharing” lens feels really refreshing to me right now, so I’m planning to sit with the idea for a while.  Some of the questions I’m asking myself that maybe you’d like to ask yourself too:

  • How would your relationships be different if you shared your time (or your ear, heart, wisdom, patience, etc.) instead of giving it?
  • Would it change your relationship with your job, or your interactions with strangers?
  • Would you be more inclined to share your money with organizations instead of giving it?
  • How would it feel to receive if you were sharing and not giving?

One thought on “On Giving and Sharing

  1. I love the idea of sharing instead of giving. It makes you a partner in a process, not a one-time giver. So many things are so hard to change; they take a team working toward a goal, not a giver and a recipient.

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