Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Generosity

I think of myself as a not especially generous person, but that may be because I'm thinking of generosity in the money sense. I'm probably quite generous in other senses though, like being forgiving, or being empathetic, or overlooking faults.

I quite easily forgive people for hurting me, or upsetting me, or being rude to me. I don't hold grudges for years afterwards or plot their early demise. I just assume they were having a bad day or didn't think before they spoke.

I try hard to understand other people's feelings and opinions and circumstances. I don't instantly dismiss them as idiots, cranks or time-wasters. I assume there are good reasons why people are miserable, or poor, or intolerant, and I want to know what those reasons are.

I accept that people have all sorts of faults, the same as I do, and I work around those faults rather than condemning them. Cutting them a bit of slack seems kinder than making them feel guilty and incompetent.

I don't let an instant dislike of someone put me off them. However disconcerting a person may be at first glance, I always give them a chance to correct me and show me their finer qualities. And they usually have some.

I will give people time. If someone has a complicated problem, or a long tale of woe, I'll hear them out for as long as it takes. I'm not one of those super-busy, self-important people who always have something more urgent to attend to.

I try to accept people as they are and not as I would like them to be. I try to respect their uniqueness and individuality and not force them to be something I find more comfortable or definable.

In return I hope others will be generous to me in the same ways. That they'll give me time, be forgiving, be compassionate, allow for my faults.

We can have all the material goodies in the world, we can have beautiful homes and possessions, but if we aren't generous to each other, if we treat each other brusquely and harshly, then life becomes cold and sad.

It's the people who've been generous to me, who've treated me with unexpected warmth and sensitivity, that bring sunshine to my life. They make up for all those who were mean and curt and discouraging, those whose hearts are frozen.

19 comments:

Bijoux said...

A benefit of having a child with a disability is that you are able to see people's true colors a little more clearly. Do they ignore your child or do they make an effort to get to know him/her? It can be interesting.

Suburbia said...

A lesson for us all to learn and teach our children :) Thanks Nick

Nick said...

Bijoux: Very true. Odd how some people just blank a disabled person as if they don't even exist.

Suburbia: Thanks for the compliment! No thanks to my own parents, I have to say. My attitudes are more an act of rebellion against their less tolerant outlook.

Ursula said...

Well, Nick, like Grannymar,judging by her 'Tuesday Surprise", you too are a perfect human being whilst - as you both describe it - flawed. I salute you both. Congratulations. Not that I would come to either of you for anything.

To be fair to you: You do not consider yourself 'generous' when it comes to money. A major character defect in my book. In my experience, and it is considerable since I am impecunious every so often whilst throwing money at others even when I am not exactly swimming in it myself, people who can't put their hand in their pockets are, by definition, NOT generous of mind or soul.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Trust you to pick on that! Mind you, when I say I'm not especially generous with money, all I mean is that I don't fling it in all directions. If someone I know or some worthy charity needs money, and I feel like helping them, I'll happily fork out. For example, we just donated to a San Francisco charity that's going to provide showers for street people.

And you can't seriously think I'm a perfect human being if you've been reading my blog regularly!

Secret Agent Woman said...

This is yet another trait where it all depends on the situation. I don't mind flaws in others, of course, and I forgive sometimes too easily. But there are times when it's best to pay attention to early warning signs about someone's character.

Nick said...

Agent: That's true, sometimes first impressions can be all too accurate and a person turns out to be just as flawed as they seemed to be.

kylie said...

oh nick, did you ever see anyone try too hard and make an absolute hash of what they were doing?

you need to stop deciding how you want to be described and just BE.

Wisewebwoman said...

Best demonstration of personal generosity: Observe how people treat servers, flight attendants, etc.

Best demonstration of financial generosity: asking street people what they need and getting it for them (meal, coffee, blanket, etc.)

XO
WWW

Nick said...

Kylie: I was thinking of mentioning that, but my post was getting longer and longer! Yes, there is such a thing as over-generosity that becomes a hindrance rather than a help....

I can't just be, any more than you can. Everything I do and say defines who and what I am.

Nick said...

www: Indeed. I always treat them as equals, deserving the same respect and courtesy as anyone else. And I like the term "personal generosity".

There are virtually no street people in Belfast so I have little chance to test my reactions....

kylie said...

of course everything you say and do defines you but you dont need to think about it ad infinitum!

Nick said...

Kylie: Oh, I think I do. The more self-awareness, the better. People who aren't self-aware are a real liability. Also, I don't have a strong sense of self-identity because of my very authoritarian upbringing, and I feel I still have a lot to discover about myself. Yes, even at the age of 66!

Grannymar said...

Nick, are we twins? ;)

Nick said...

Grannymar: Er no, I don't think so! Anyway, I think some people don't really believe I'm so lacking in malice and censoriousness....

Jenny Woolf said...

That's a pretty generous attitude. I think very few people are totally lacking in all kinds of generosity, thank goodness.

Nick said...

Jenny: I think that's true. Out-and-out meanness is pretty rare.

blackwatertown said...

I was waiting for a "but" - but there wasn't one!
When it comes to forgiveness, the tricky one - or is that the impossible one - is when someone hurts your friend.

Nick said...

Paul: There's no "but" because I didn't have the space to list all my dozens of faults - and as you know, there are plenty. But meanness ain't one of them. I'm not disposed to instantly condemn people I know next to nothing about.

Well, when someone hurts my friend, forgiveness is a matter for the friend, but I would certainly defend them (the friend) in any way I could.