be generous

Generosity is usually a touchy-feely kind of subject. As a man, I know that a lot of men aren’t interested in talking about any touchy-feely subjects. But generosity is a subject that really needs to be addressed. If you’re a man, I dare you to hang with me for the next 429 words.

The inborn desire that men have to provide is a good desire. We are programmed to hunt it, kill it, and drag it back to the cave. Our hunting, killing, and dragging looks a little different than it did 10,000 years ago. As a computer worker, I don’t stalk errant electrons or slaughter out-of-bounds integers. And I’m sure, whatever your occupation is, it doesn’t involve dragging anything home. Still, our natures haven’t changed at all through out history, and we still want, and need, to provide.

What if your need to provide can’t be met. What if you’ve lost a job or suffered an accident or are otherwise unable to bring home the bacon? It’s times like these when generosity shines. We may need a little help now and then, and that’s not a bad thing. The economy, our jobs, our health all ebb and flow – they’re up and down, back and forth, abundant and scarce.

I’m convinced this cycle repeats itself many times throughout our lives. If you haven’t experienced the full cycle yet, you will. At the bottom of the cycle, when money is scarce, we may not want to admit we need help, but we may not be able to make it without help. At the top of the cycle, when money is plentiful, it’s very easy to forget where we’ve come from, and how difficult it was at the bottom. Just as we were unable to make it without help, now it is our turn to be helpful. Right now, you probably know somebody who is at the bottom, and who might not make it without your help.

Don’t think of it as touchy-feely, think of it as grasping the arm of somebody dangling from a cliff. The guy dangling from the cliff usually isn’t too proud to accept the help, and the guy grabbing his arm from above isn’t some super-human hero, he’s just doing what any humane person has to do.

But don’t think you have to wait until times are better to be generous. Whatever you have, even if it’s not very much, you can give some of it right now. You might find that you get more out of it than the person you’re helping.

This article originally appeared in the November 26, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

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