consumerism wealth

Generosity

We spend a lot of time on this blog thinking about what’s wrong with the world, and not as much time as I would like promoting the answers. That’s mainly because we’re pretty new to most of this stuff, and you have to understand the issues before you can work out the solutions. And, lets face it, the problems are a lot easier to see and to write about. But there’s one answer I keep thinking about that I wanted to mention – I think one of the greatest ‘cures’ for consumerism is generosity.

Generosity redeems possessions. When we start to ask ourselves what we can give away, we begin to see our possessions differently – they take on new potential as blessings to others, instead of being cold hard stuff. Who was it who said you never really own something until you’re prepared to give it away?

Generosity gives a purpose to wealth. We all have more than we need, whether we realise it or not. Cultivating generosity gives new meaning to our bank balances. It turns those empty numbers into promises.

Generosity takes us out of ourselves. Consumerism feeds off self absorbed people, and does all it can to encourage selfishness. Giving is a powerful way to break that, by nature causing us to reach out and engage with others.

Generosity puts our own needs into perspective. When we begin to think about giving, we focus on the needs of others for a change. In looking at what others lack, and how we can meet their needs, our own perceived needs may pale into insignificance, and we won’t worry about them in the same way.

Generosity makes us grateful. Gratitude is a rare thing in a consumer society. If more of us were grateful for the luxuries we enjoy, we might enjoy them enough to stop wanting more. The very act of giving acknowledges the fact that we have something others do not have.

You cannot give, and remain the same.

Jesus was right, it is better to give than to receive.

I’m going to come back to this when I’ve thought about it some more. In the meantime, check out Phil Whittall’s blog, or the living generously challenge.

4 comments

  1. Great post Jeremy. Generosity has a real power to it. It sees the world differently, sees opportunity not competition, sees blessing not lack, sees riches where others do not. It stands out so much because we see little of it. Here’s to more generous hearts in the world!

    PS thanks for the mention

  2. Have just found your site. Catchy name and a good read.

    The challenge for all of us who wish to be generous is that we have to stand for more than anti-consumerism or anti-capitalism. I gave up on the ‘living generously’ group because it became IMHO dominated by endless discussions about the ethics of choice, rather than the imperative to be generous. One interminable discussion focussed on whether it was more environmentally responsible at work to use disposable plastic cups for tea, or whether it was better to use a china cup and wash it every day. This seems to be a very shallow view of what it means to ‘live generously’!

    I like to think of generosity as a ‘relational paradigm’, and its not the only one. There is a very good book called the ‘R Option’ available from the Relationships Foundation website, which goes into this and other aspects more fully. Well worth a read.

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