#FridaySnippet 2 – Coming from Bliss – Charity

This week’s snippet comes from one of my current non-fiction WIP, “Coming from Bliss”. It’s from the chapter “Charity” that originally started as a short essay that I wrote a while back. I finished the essay and went about my business. By the time I went back to read it again I knew there was more. At some point I just found myself typing like crazy.

Here it is, enjoy!

When you’re out and about during the holiday season, do you drop a few coins, or maybe more into the bell ringers charity bucket? Do you hand the person at the end of the freeway off-ramp a buck or two? Buy candy bars from the neighbors kid to help them pay for field trips? You might be one who will faithfully send that check when your favorite 501(c)(3) sends you a post card. Or… maybe you’re one who believes that charity only breeds dependency. A firm believer in the “Teach a man to fish…” school of thought.

The question that brings to my mind is: Are any of these things or ways of thinking more or less charitable than the other?

I have no degree in psychology, philosophy or theology. At best, I may be a bar-stool pragmatist of sorts. I have been fortunate enough to enjoy efforts in more than a few areas in life with some of those efforts actually resulting in one form of success or another. Some efforts were miserable failures, at least to the initial intentions. I have also enjoyed and suffered various levels of social existence. Through it all, I am proud to say that I’ve worked hard for all that I’ve had in life and I have always tried to “give something back” when I could. But… have I truly been a charitable person? Yeah, I think so.

If someone is in need, I see what I have to give. When I see someone suffering, I try to find ways to comfort and heal. When faced with ignorance, I try to teach instead of patronize or trample. And though I believe I have learned plenty about what it is to be charitable, there are still a couple of things, very personal things, that I have never quite understood completely.

1.Why is it that when a total stranger asks for a dollar, we just dig into our pocket or purse and, well… hand them a dollar!? No conversation that amounts to anything. No real thought besides that fleeting, judgmental “I wonder how they are actually going to spend this dollar” And most of all, when we give to a stranger, we have no attachment to what was given, or even the act itself, once we walk away.

2.When we give a dollar to a friend or family member, we tend to ask what they are going to do with that dollar. After time we tend to ask what they’ve done with that dollar. And in the meantime, we have usually let at least those closest to us know that we gave them a dollar. We also tend to actually ask them what we only allowed in thought with the stranger – “So what are you going to use that for?” And not to be forgotten, lest we create a skewed image of our true selves, the thought we keep to ourselves “I wonder, will I ever get that dollar back?”

Is there actually a difference between giving to strangers versus friends? Do we actually think that questioning those close to us changes their stewardship of the gift? , when we give them that dollar whether they are a friend, family, or total stranger, Are we really helping anyone?

Many would say that it’s not right to ask how a gift will be treated once it is received. Charity is most often believed to be something that exists with “no strings attached”, therefore, in itself, is an honorable act on the part of the giver, if stewardship is left completely to the receiver and never questioned.

Thanks for reading my #FridaySnippet! Feel free to… no, check that. PLEASE share your thoughts in the comments below I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for spending time with me today!


6 Responses to #FridaySnippet 2 – Coming from Bliss – Charity

  1. I think it comes down to semantics, something the end of your article hints at. When we give to strangers we call it charity. When we give to someone we know we call it a gift. Is there a difference? Maybe not in terms of the meaning of the words, but in terms of the way it is given and received. Most people would not accept an act of charity from a friend. Plus the giver tends to feel more ownership if what they give is classed as a gift.

    Thanks for sharing this with us 🙂

    • G.R. Bliss says:

      I agree! This is just the opening to the essay (the rough draft). The essay is about 2k words and the chapter has grown far beyond that. I started out with the idea that I was going to write about my views on the subject and ended up posing more questions than my direct opinions/perceptions. It’s become quite a learning experience. Definitely makes me look at myself a lot closer. 😉

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. For me, I trust a charity to spend my money wisely. I don’t like giving money to friends (apart from birthdays) If a friend has fallen on hardship and they ask me for money then, depending on the person, they might become reliant on you for a quick way out. In my experience I’ve lost money to friends like that when I didn’t have a lot. It messes up the friendship. I prefer not to lend money to people these days. I’m happy to give to charity though.

    • G.R. Bliss says:

      It can definitely be tough on friendships. I think that’s why most people are quicker to give to a charity organization or even a stranger than someone they know. Thinking about that had a bit to do with why I decided to accept and write this.

      Thanks for your comment! 😀

  3. Interesting piece. I think that the main difference between donating your spare change to a stranger and giving money to a friend or relative is in the numbers. If you gave friends spare change you wouldn’t be thinking about what they did with it, because it would be trivial. If you gave them your monthly salary… Said so, you should depart from your earned coins only if you aren’t going to think about it later.

  4. G.R. Bliss says:

    This is true! I purposely made the example in this part of the chapter “a dollar” for each. I’ll let you in on a little secret – Later in the chapter I address the amounts more directly revisiting this particular example to pose and address the question “but if we…, then why do we…”. 😉

    One issue I had writing this is that, once I got into it, there was so much more to say than I could in just an essay. That’s how the essay that this shippet is from became part of a chapter in a book! (Naw… that NEVER happens, right? lol )

    Great point and thanks for the comment!

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