Community and Giving

~Written by Seth Godin~
We can choose to “give back,” or we can choose to give.Viewing the web as a platform for generosity is very different than seeing an opportunity to turn it into an ATM machine. The way we spend our time online determines not only whether or not the community we choose grows and thrives, but it decides whether or not we will be part of what is built.”What can I contribute today,” might be the very best way to become part of a community. Relentless generosity brings us closer together.The alternative? The masses of web surfers spending their time wasting their time, taking, clicking, scamming or being scammed.When you think of the real communities you belong to, your family, your best friends, the tribes that matter… of course the decision is easy. We don’t try to earn a little extra money when we split the bill at dinner or calculate market rate interest on a loan to a dear friend. And yet, when we get online, it’s easy to start rationalizing our way to short-term behavior and selfishness.Take or give?
The above is from a blog that I recently started following. It’s random short snippets that are life based, sometimes business based or marketing based. Things I use in my everyday professional life.When I saw this post today (catching up from being out last Monday), I immediately was taken aback by the subtle truth offered in this. My thoughts on this, I offer for your consideration. We often talk of giving back to the community, this in it’s very nature implies that the community we are giving to has given us something and we feel required to give something back to it. This is then a relationship of mutual benefit. In the past I have always said I wanted to give back to the community but never really thought about what I was saying or the implications of that act. It’s not that I am giving back to a community, a person, I am simply gifting to another person.An example of what I mean, when I worked outside of home and before I worked for Sacred Mists, every Friday I would visit Dunkin Donuts and pay for the order of the car behind me…in what I called Drive Thru Pay it Forward. I simply gave a free meal or coffee to someone who does not know me to spread some abundance into their lives. I did not know them and would never meet them so it was not me giving back. I was simply giving.Giving back is a small part of what I do at Sacred Mists. I volunteer my time to help other students above and beyond my normal job duties to give back to the community that trained me. Yes I paid for my training and received a good spiritual education and training in my chosen path; however, I still gave back above and beyond the services rendered. Does that make it giving back or simply giving?  The more I think on this the more I feel it’s not really “giving back” but simply giving.
When you pay for services rendered it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.  You receive a good or service and the seller receives compensation for time, effort and materials.  This is seen more directly when dealing with small businesses and artisans but can be seen in every facet of life and business.  At some point it becomes greater than an equal compensation (seen most directly in large businesses who yield high profit).  Still it is not “giving back” or “giving” it is a business transaction or relationship.
In order to give then I presume that there must be nothing in it (other than a feeling of good perhaps) for you the giver.  I feel this when I give out blessing bags to the homeless, make donations to a local charity or simply give freely of my time, goods or spirit to those who come to me in any fashion.  This is the essence of what it is to give.  At the end of the day, when I have given of myself I feel a happiness or peace that I have done something beneficial or kind to another person.  Even when what I give is but a random smile or greeting, someones day has been brightened.  Is this then the true sense of giving or is it still a transaction where I give and receive a good feeling.
There is much to consider in this and I do not hold the answers just more questions; however,  I will not cease to be kind and help those who wish to be a part of my life.  I will give and be at peace with whatever this is that I do.


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Posted on 31 August '13 by , under Community, Growth, Life.