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Monday, March 22, 2010

Give and Take Collection

One of my ideas about blogging on so many subjects has been that themes would emerge by themselves. As I saw this happening, I reasoned that I could sift out the posts related to a certain theme and use them to start a targeted blog subject. A new subject seems to have emerged! Having written so extensively on this subject, I have decided that I should collect these posts into a separate blog that specializes in this subject alone. This post is a collection of the various posts on this subject, collected for your pleasure. 
 Reciprocal "give and take" is so essential that I've decided to collect them into the subject of a new blog - to be announced. I've been exploring this phenomena for some time now. Written about the different aspects of the problem quite a bit, as you can see here.

It's going to get to be a big factor as the baby boomers get to the point where they need to accept care gracefully during aging. For that reason alone, this issue could become a really important one to discuss.

Would you subscribe to a blog on just this subject as a way to allow yourself to free up the acts of gracefully accepting and learning about well-placed giving?

Here's where I ask questions about the different style of how gifts are offered,  asked around the gift-giving fervor of Christmas time.

Tacit Obligation
If someone has difficulty accepting, many times if you can vary the style of how the gift is offered, it will result in making it easier for them to accept. Making light of it's value is sometimes effective, because the best situation between giver and "givee" is when the thing is of great value to the givee and is easy for the giver to offer. But sometimes an action carries much more weight than anything they might say about it. Thus, accepting a gift incites obligation that may be only tacitly guessed. Why can't people accept a gift? A mystery part of a person is not sure what is the (sub)culturally tacit agreement about this gift; talking about it probably won't help.

Random Acts
Some people feel a need to remove themselves from the act, so that the receiver has no idea where the gift came from. It becomes impersonal. Thus we have all of the organizations that specialize in accepting tax charitable gifts and doing the messing actual giving to others.

Giving Back The proper way to "give back" is not always to do the exact same gesture, because needs are different. The mistake many people make in selecting what to give is they assume their value system of what is valuable is identical to the givee. This is not true. Being able to put oneself in the shoes of the givee is a thoughtful, compassionate act. So this is often a good reason to reject the offer of help - because what is being offered is misplaced and not of value from the point of view of the givee.

Gifts That Fit
In the small town of Bolinas, CA, we have a "freebox" where mainly articles of clothing are dropped off to be made available to anyone who wants them. The proper way to give back for the value of what you have gotten from it is to clean and organize the Freebox. Many people focus on the stuff itself; they mistake that the proper way to reciprocate is to bring more "stuff." Actually, having a place to bring your stuff to get rid of it is also a significant benefit. So the proper way to reciprocate is more like assuming the role temporarily of a "shop-keeper." A person who wanted to reciprocate would make the good stuff available to those who stop by looking to get something, (like pairing up shoes,) glean out the trash and every once in awhile, clear out the Freebox of all of it's donations so it's empty again to accept more stuff.

Allowing Benefits of Being The Giver
 The Hawaiian spirit of Aloha is a wonderful template. It observes that you must allow someone to give, even if what is being offered is not of value to the givee. Being able to give is a human right, and by gracefully accepting, you are allowing this pleasure of giving to be exercised.

Consequences of Acceptance Generally with people who have trouble accepting being given to, it's important to ask what the accepting of gifts symbolizes. To some people, accepting what is offered is a "one-down" position in a competitive sense.  To others, they are fearful that accepting the gift will make them obligated to play the role eternally.They fear they're going to lose their independence as they learn to rely on the gift being provided routinely, and will act to prevent the source going away.

Independence Declarations Causing a Split I've also seen repeatedly a situation that seemed to be a direct result of mistaking the roles and pleasures giving and receiving. The situation was where a partner was forced to accept help because of a temporary injury. Evidently after recovery, the person who had been injured wanted to reject help from their partner to re-establish their independence and self-respect. ANY help was rejected entirely, so often and completely that even the "normal" pleasures of doing things for one's sweetie symbolized infantile dependence to the person who was in the process of recovering. If this was not purposefully addressed, it caused a breakup!

Giving and receiving seems to be connected to how respect is shown. In our culture, you must choose between respect and having rapport. Here's a post where I explored it's application in how respect is signified in the context of speaking in a group interaction.  It's curious how listeners are valued socially, (which is a receptive role) when in the situation where the gift is tangible - suddenly the giver becomes the authority.

Suspicious of Greed It's also curious that when someone is in a situation of getting or having gotten a personal benefit, somehow what they offer or receive is suddenly suspect, because there's now a "invested interest." This is what happens when a person is really passionate about a belief in how something works for them and wants to communicate the benefit of their experience to others - everything they say about what they are passionate about is suddenly considered in that light or frame. They're proselytizers, rather than merely sharing their experience. I'm not sure why people believe that someone who is enthusiastic about something is self-involved or selfish.

Some people take the giver/givee challenge to the point of refusing to establish the bond of a relationship entirely. I talk about that here: There are many rituals of establishing a bond as there are subcultures.

Here's another post where I talk about the anger that results when the givee decides they are "entitled" to what the givers are offering before they're getting it. This talks about greed.

Complimenting is also an interesting way of giving back that some people feel strange about accepting. Of course, it's a benefit to find out that what you do easily is notable for others - because it signifies what could be a valuable talent. Some people automatically reject them out of hand as an expression of the deadly sin of pride or ego. Some people regard compliments of the possession of an item as a way to ask for the thing to be offered by the person who has it. Here's a story about why I believe that complimenting is an important thing to do. In my culture, handing out a compliment implies the person was (like a puppy) explicitly seeking your approval, which may not be true. Rejecting the gift implies that you would prefer to give yourself the approval. There are many other values signified by accepting a compliment that have people have reacted negatively to it.

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