25 August 2009

25Aug- some thoughts on generosity.

That's what I was going to write about. I was going to comment on various motivations behind generosity. I see many different kinds of generosity manifest at the restaurant: Altruistic and self-serving. Obligatory and faute de mieux. Pity and sympathy.
And it seemed the more I thought about it and the more I delved into potential motivations the fewer I found and the more self-serving those few appeared. I had, perhaps, been influenced by something that Sartre said: "Generosity is nothing else than a craze to possess. All which I abandon, all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives."

So I sought out other people's thoughts on the subject, hoping that I'd come across at least some academic paper that proposed a similarly dismal construct as I'd formed but I couldn't find that much. There's plenty on motivation and influence. There's a little on generosity and forgiveness broken down to the behavioral level (which was close.)

What I did find was a lot of articles written by very happy people. People who either didn't consider driving forces or who dismissed primal gratification as a reason. There were plenty of articles that perceived generosity as a beautiful thing. Suggestions that generosity is, in and of itself, an act of generosity.

And I started thinking about why I was so intent on breaking down something so positive in an effort to find something negative or coldly behavioral. Why would I read someone's presentation of a tree offering its fruit as an act of generosity and see only that the tree is trying to spread its seeds as widely as possible by sheathing them in something edible so that they'd be consumed and deposited elsewhere?

And it occurs to me that, while I may see the cold side of the situation that's no reason I have to dwell on it. I think too much.
Why not embrace the warm side?

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