Archives for posts with tag: Generosity

‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, or so they say. Not a problem solved, necessarily, but less of a problem, and less of a mountain to climb to fix it.

I find also that a problem emailed is a problem halved. It is, of course, the digital equivalent of talking something out with someone. If we’ve got a work or non-work problem that we’re not sure how to address, the act of putting it down on paper, organising your thoughts and explaining it, goes a long way towards better understanding the problem and maybe solving it yourself.

When you share the problem with someone else it becomes their problem too, hence the phrase problem halved – if they’re prepared to shoulder it for you. They might also be able to solve it for you too, especially if you picked them for their subject matter expertise as well as their willingness to listen and help.

How many times have you taken time to articulate a problem, its origins and its causes, and the possible options to fix it, before the answer crystallised for you? Many times, if you’re like me. Often we don’t need the other person to do anything, just to listen and nod. The act of them simply being there and of forcing us to think about something in a way someone else can understand is enough. Same with email.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or so the saying goes. There’s always some implied barter or quid pro quo implicit in the donation of a free lunch. The donor is expecting something in return – usually.

I was on Liverpool Street in London the other day. There’s usually a homeless man selling the Big Issue near the pedestrian crossing across from one of the station’s exits. He’s not a British national, as you can hear from his extremely chirpy ‘Good morning, ‘ave a good day’, accompanied by a thumbs up, to hundreds upon hundreds of passers-by during the 2 rush hours.

I was feeling particularly virtuous, or so I thought and I went up to buy a copy of the Big Issue from him. Sometimes I will give the Big Issue vendors a quid or two and not take the magazine, but on this occasion I fancied a read. I hadn’t read it for a long time.

A young chap, late 20s I would say, got there first, so I waited behind him. Except that the young chap didn’t buy a Big Issue, or slip him a quid or two. He gave him a lunch, a lunch in a paper carrier bag that he had just bought, and walked off.

What a lovely gesture it was. Thoughtful, easy to do, and for a few quid he’s made the man’s day. I’m slightly welling up as I recount the story. I felt that my own magnanimity has been seriously compromised as I profferred my cash for the magazine, and rightly so.

If we all made the young man’s gesture once every month or two, what a difference that would make.

The lunch donor didn’t look for anything in return, except perhaps his own reflected feel good factor. Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch after all.

My son is a talented musician. He doesn’t get it from me, unless you count singing in the shower.

He’s just started busking in our local city to raise a few bucks to defray the costs of a summer school he goes to at a University in Dublin. It’s a pretty nerve-wracking experience for a young teenager to plant themselves on a busy shopping street and put themselves out there. He gets a little anxious before it, and worries about what people will think or say, but he gets it done. And he gets a bit of cash.

Quite a bit of cash actually. The other day I kept a distant eye on him for an hour, holed up in a nearby coffee shop. I was able to people watch as well, a favourite pastime of mine.

People are so generous. Their generosity amazes me. People of all ages and types gave him money. While he was playing, in between songs, even before he had started and was setting up. Maybe it’s because he looks younger than he is, or because he’s playing a relatively unusual instrument for busking with, I don’t know.

I know one thing though. We’re lucky that we live near a city which is well known for its friendliness, its arts culture and its generosity. I was blown away by how generous people are.

It restores your faith in humanity, for a while at least :-).

Many people are drawn to a charitable concern or cause because they are personally affected by it, or they know someone who is. Obviously there are degrees of interest and commitment, from following a cause on Facebook to actively campaigning and fund-raising for it.

People sometimes, sadly, are responding to a tragedy within the circle of friends or family – often in an area that they had no knowledge of or interest in – and can go on a crusade, putting all of their efforts into helping lessen the burden of others who fall victim to same poor hand of cards that they’ve been dealt. This might involve setting up a fund or a charitable cause in the name of the person affected, or it could be contributing to a cause or body that already exists. It is as a direct reaction to the events that people get involved, when they come face to face with the perspective of others who have had to endure the same fate.

This is, of course, laudable, super worthy and to be applauded. I’m not trying to denigrate the intent and the effort in any way. They are personally invested in the cause. Would they have got involved if someone they knew wasn’t affected by this condition or set of events? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. They’re involved now.

Then there is what I call the genuinely charitable soul. The genuinely charitable soul volunteers on a regular basis and devotes their time into something that is unrelated to their own catalogue of personal experiences. They work for a cause they believe in because they feel it is worthwhile, not because of something that happened to them. They see an area where the playing field isn’t level, and they work to level it.

In this case it’s somewhat similar, though not the same as that of people who work in – ie are paid do deliver – the caring professions. To me the genuinely charitable soul is an extremely rare breed, and one to be cherished.