by Sharra Orchid R. Diotay

What is offered for free is dangerous - it usually involves either a trick or a hidden obligation. --- Robert Greene 
            there is no question that generosity is a virtue. i have no problem with that. it is so, for we believe that it is so. it would then be of no wonder that all angles in the realms of morality and ethics command us to be giving, altruistic  and even selfless, that we should care above all else, about the interest of others more than ours. and we find ourselves conforming and complying with it. and out of a hazy comprehension, we aid man in all ways possible - to the extent that we forgo of advantages for ourselves. this is what morality and ethics dictate.

           however, if you delve a little deeper and dissect generosity, flaws would be ascertained - at least on man's point of view.

           psychologically, man is a rational being. he would act on reasons, for reasons, and to reasons, which he knows would be beneficial and aim to the realization of a definite end he bears in mind. 

Heavenly Reward

          a man has a hundred dollars which he saved to spend on his books. however, a typhoon broke in a certain city, and many fell victims to this disastrous calamity. he then decided to donate the money, which he could have enjoyed, to the victims. now, does his action of donating the money qualify him to be called generous?

           i'll leave the answer to your imagination, but think of this. his charitable work, in this case, was perhaps motivated by his religious orientation that promises him heavenly rewards for his selfless acts. the thought of reward could have move him deeply to perform the act and that without the reward; there should have been no reason for him to give. 

         the man's charitable penchant was somehow coerced by a 'reward', which he ma be thought of as of greater value than the thing he sacrificed. 

         but the Bible has a say on this: For by grace are you saved through faith. It is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8)

Hypothetical Hero

           one can argue that the man donated his hundred dollars to the typhoon victims not because of his religious beliefs, but by other reasons in. let's consider the act of heroism

             perhaps, he believed that if he put other people's needs first - especially those who need aid most that would create a hero out of him. this is then the reason, which moved him to do charity. in man's eyes, he is selfless. when man would think of him this way, then the end in his mind is finally realized. his charity never went in vain. he established to himself a virtue that made him likeable to the masses. 


               one factor that would move man to do charity is pity. the thought of helping others implies that the giver has more than he who is given. also, man would be disturbed and stressed with the thought that the sad plight of one may also happen to him. so to compensate for this unbearable thought, man performs charity. 

               think of this: is it not pity that floods first to your mind upon the sight of the filthy, hungry, unfortunate beggar? we sympathize with him for we imagine ourselves in his place. that somehow we are luckier than he. we then perform self check. and we remember all the money we spent on things we don't need. then amazingly, we feel guilty. so we do charity, to at least rid ourselves of some. after we give, we somehow feel good that a portion of our money was spent for other's need rather than our whimsical caprices. 

          generosity in this case was performed to rid of self - guilt. the act had appeased the mind that somehow, and in some ways, I could be useful. 

Power: Strategic Generosity

              generosity, for people who want to be in control, is seen as a tool. it softens people up, making them vulnerable to be deceived and led around. debt of gratitude, they say, usually comes with a psychological price tag of complicated feelings of obligations. to be free from obligation, pay the full price, rather than save some cents and cause yourself insults and create a cheap impression, which will really hurt you in the future. 

             clearly, charity may be used to one's advantage. he who performs it wants to demonstrate that he has not only goods for himself but for others as well.

             James Rachels describes it like this: Charity is a delight one takes in the demonstrates of one's power. the charitable man is demonstrating to himself and to the world, that he is more capable than others. he can not only take care of himself, he has enough left over for others who are not so able as he. he is really just showing off his own superiority.

             money is powerful. that is why it is the root of all evil. but sadly, it's often used to create an aura of a generous giver. it attracts attention, emotion and even submission.

              money has its own psychology: tight purse strings are unattractive. thus it should circulate.

The Dam

            men would dam the water to save it for themselves. but soon, however, the dam becomes pestilent and stagnant. it becomes futile. the best remedy for this is to destroy it to let water circulate inorder to generate commerce. likewise, with money, spending freely creates an air of generosity.

          it is also in the psychology of man that he will respond to the needs of others only when there is something in for himself.

              as the Bible says, "He hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise." (Luke 3:11)

              thus, it is indeed right to say that it would always be the object of an action that determines whether it is charity or not, that if one would act due simply to a want, it then won't mean that one is selfish.

               if you think that giving is simple, is that not a compound lie?

               after all, there is an Indian saying. "be careful when a naked man gives you his shirt."


i saw this article post from a college magazine. i have read it and i liked it a lot though. it usually applies to most filipino setting. 


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