Do you have a four year old mind?
Do you have a four year old mind?
I read an interesting article today about the money taboo. Here it is
Yeah there are issues alright. I think the reason for the taboo is that essentially a lot of how we deal with money is based on greed and fear… and we don’t really like talking about those things. Surely there’s a better way to live.
I just wanted to post this link, as much to remind myself of it as anything else. Its an article about how hard it is to gather tax in the developing international economy. I take from it a message about the inefficiency of a system based on taking (ie coercion) rather than true free will.
People will often try to avoid things they are coerced into (like taxes) and so it becomes difficult and inefficient to make these systems work. There is a little example in the article that gives a little insight into the scale of these inefficiencies. It refers to the threshold for charging GST (goods and services tax) on packages imported into New Zealand. This threshold kicks in at $400. It says in the article that this threshold is derived from the cost of inspecting a package and its documentation as it comes into the country. GST is 15% here in New Zealand, so the implication is that the process of inspecting the goods and gathering that tax is around $60 per package… Coercion systems are inherently inefficient.
I dream of a world based around greater freewill which cuts out this inefficiency and makes a better world for all of us. I know its a bit hard to imagine this working, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.
Anyway, heres the link: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11211133
I came across this video clip from a comedy show where the guest pointed out that GFRF is the natural order of nature. It is so great to see people discussing these ideas and also doing things to live more in this way.
I thought it was worth a watch, so here it is.
I just read and article in the paper about a groups push to establish a ‘living wage’ in New Zealand.
It was an interesting read and you can see it here
I liked that the approach they are taking is about appealing to the conscience rather than relying on legislation to enforce their aims. Underneath the whole issue though is this idea of capital and labour each struggling against each other to get the most they can.
I read things like this and it makes me sad. Sad that we have organized our society in such a way that this opposition and struggle is inherent in almost all our relationships. I don’t think it has to be that way though. I think that collectively we can re-imagine how we relate to each other and reconstruct our society so that co-operation is this norm.
Moving in this direction will require fundamental change in not only our societal institutions, but also in each of our individual attitudes, habits and ways we see the world. Things that we take for granted as obvious ‘truths’, particularly in how we need to interact with others, would need to be discarded and a new point of view taken up. This might be scary at first, as it would mean moving from what we know – and while it is problematic – has become ingrained in us, to something that will probably seem strange and unfamiliar to begin with. I think making the shift will be worthwhile though, and I think there are a lot of people leaning in this direction and trying to find how they can make a change.
I think if not GFRF itself, at least some of the ideas behind GFRF could be part of this change towards a happier, co-operative rather than competitive society.
I just found a pretty good article about the benefits of giving. Fits well with the GFRF concept and some of the personal changes you can expect as you try GFRF.
The article is here
I particularly like these quotes from the article:
“Money has become the middleman” (when talking about how we have become disconnected from each other)
“We were taught that people were innately self-sacrificing, not self-serving, and that for true happiness, not these sort of fluctuating high/lows, but for true happiness, you have to be self-sacrificing and if you do that you have other people who are self-sacrificing around you and it starts what they call a spiritual movement in regards to the idea of giving instead of trying to take.” (talking about how her father taught her to see the world).
First Impressions of Charity
What comes to mind when you think of ‘Charity’? I think for a lot of us it is things like people in the street collecting money to feed starving orphans in a far of land, or maybe someone calling you on the phone asking you to donate money to help re-home abandoned animals. Closer to home you may think of things like raising money for your local sports club to help fund building of new facilities, or equipment for youth teams. Closer still you might think of acts of service like cooking a meal for sick neighbour.
A lot of wonderful things are done in the name of ‘Charity’, but I know for many of us ‘Charity’ brings up feelings that are not entirely positive. Negative connotations have somehow also become attached to this inherently good thing.
Why is ‘Charity’ Sometimes a Dirty Word?
I think there are a number of reasons why Charity sometimes gets a bad reputation in our modern society. They come from what I think is a fundamental misunderstanding of what charity really is. I would like to look at some of these distortions before discussing a deeper understanding of the meaning of Charity.
One of the things that sometimes sours peoples attitude to Charity is the practices of organizations and people that acquire funding on their behalf. They can be very persistent and irritating to the point where people feel they are giving not so much out of the goodness of their hearts but because they have been hounded and they just want to get rid of the person.
Then there is the case of the new breed of collectors who will approach people to donate, but then will not accept their offered cash donation because what they are after is a contract for a donation by monthly direct debit. These are usually PROFESSIONAL collectors and they and the organization they work for are paid on commision and these commissions can be high – up to 100% of your entire first years worth of donations. That money you thought was going to your preferred cause may actually be going directly into the pocket of the collector and helping to fund even more pesky collectors. (See this article in the New Zealand Herald about Charity fundraising)
If some of your donated money does manage to get through to your supported organization, then more of that money is used for ongoing marketing and to pay administrative and staffing costs – which can be high, before finally some of it may get to the purpose you wanted to contribute too.
The reality is that Charity has become big business, and like other big businesses they will try to squeeze every dollar they can out of their audience – even if it sometimes means annoying and hounding them. And also like any business, many people enter the sector with an eye to how much they can get for themselves personally while working there rather than what they can contribute.
This doesn’t mean that all large charitable organizations and their employees operate like this. I am sure that there are many who do great work in a highly ethical way, but the fact that some do can leave people feeling taken advantage of and suspicious about giving to any cause. There are ways around this which we will get to later on in this post.
Dependency And Weakness
Another aspect of the common conception of Charity that sometimes gives it a bad name is the idea that Charity is a hand out. Something for nothing. A lot of people instinctively dislike this idea, and I think for good reason. Sadly when people regularly get something for nothing they often become dependent on these hand outs and rather than helping these people to lead better lives it can make them weak and unable to take care of themselves.
This causes people to not want to give to charities because they don’t want to be contributing to a handout mentality which creates dependency and weakness in the recipients. It also makes people not want to receive from charity as this would indicate weakness on their part. Almost no-one wants to be considered a ‘charity case’ as the implication of weakness damages peoples sense of self esteem and sense of worth.
What is Charity Really?
So we can see a few issues with Charity as it is often thought of and practiced in our society today. There is bad mixed with good, and this can cause people to have understandably mixed feelings and attitudes towards it. Do we have to accept the bad with the good though? Or can we find another understanding of Charity which is only good, that there is no need to have mixed feelings about, something that we would like to do all the time without hesitation because there is no downside?
Out of interest I looked up a dictionary definition of Charity for reference. Here is the definition I found at www.thefreedictionary.com
char·i·ty (chr-t)n. pl. char·i·ties1. Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.2. Something given to help the needy; alms.3. An institution, organization, or fund established to help the needy.4. Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.5. Indulgence or forbearance in judging others. See Synonyms at mercy.6. often Charity Christianity The theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one’s neighbors as objects of God’s love.
[Middle English charite, from Old French, Christian love, from Latin crits, affection, from crus, dear; see k- in Indo-European roots.]
Looking at this definition we can see that the first three items refer pretty much to what we have been discussing in this post so far, but as we go further down the list I think we start to get closer to a true understanding of what Charity really is.
Charity at its essence is PURE LOVE, the giving and institutions referred to in the first three items of the definition and the earlier part of this blog post are simply imperfect human expressions of this love. By digging deeper to find the true meaning of Charity we can find better ways of expressing it.
We All Need Charity
As we come closer to understanding the deeper meaning of Charity, it quickly becomes apparent that Charity actually affects all areas of our lives and there is no shame whatsoever in receiving it. All of us can benefit from benevolence and generosity (item four in the definition) and forbearance in judgement (item five) from time to time. At our core, all of us need to love and be loved.
Charity is not just something for the poor but an inner attitude that is expressed in all of our interactions with the people and the world around us.
Integrating Charity Into Our Lives
So how do we best express this PURE LOVE in our interactions with others? Well, people are going to have different ways of doing this and the giving and institutions mentioned earlier can sometimes be a good way. But there are lots of other ways to do this as well that I think can often hit their mark a bit more accurately. I found this interesting post on Freakonomics that shares one guys ideas of how to effectively express charity in your local community (read it here). Basically there are many opportunities around us in our local communities where we can express charity effectively.
Give Freely Receive Freely and Charity
For myself, I think it is a shame to reserve our expressions of Charity to special instances of giving. Wouldn’t it be great if we could incorporate this pure love into every interaction we engage in, including our day to day business?
I think ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ has potential to do this quite well. It allows us to provide what we do directly to those people who want or need it. When we do this we are making no judgement as to whether someone is rich or poor or a ‘charity case’, because we expect them to give in return what they can or are willing to for what we have provided. We respect their contribution whether great or small, and in so doing encourage them to respect themselves and to continue to make the effort to contribute what they can in return for what they receive and in so doing contribute to the greater good of society.
This giving is very efficient as we can provide what we do best (you do work at what you do best don’t you?) to those most in need (rich or poor) without having to deal with any additional costly marketing and administrative structures to facilitate the giving. It is just part of our day to day activity and business.
As we give in this way it also makes us very aware of our own need to receive, because if we do not we receive we are unable to take care of our own needs let alone continue to give to others. It breaks down our barriers to receiving graciously. In short it encourages us to be more liberal in both our giving and receiving of love.
My experiment with GFRF has been interesting so far. I can’t say it has been a resounding success, but it hasn’t been a failure yet either. It has helped me to see the potential of interacting in this way and it has helped me to learn more about myself and how I view others and the world. My experience so far encourages me to keep trying. I am just new at this and to be perfectly honest I am probably not very good at giving freely yet, I am also probably not very good at receiving freely either. The receiving really is a challenge, I find that it takes a lot of trust to give not knowing what you will receive in return. It also takes a lot of humility to receive what is given.
I think that little by little GFRF is helping me to change for the better. It encourages me to give more, receive more, love more and trust more. As I keep experimenting I expect that I will learn a lot more both about myself and about how to give and receive freely and effectively.
I hope that you will continue to follow along on this journey.
Some refreshing and interesting perspectives here from the President of Uruguay…
Heres a link of a video of Dick Smith (founder of Dick Smith electronics and other businesses) speaking to a business leaders event about the pitfalls of perpetual growth:
He has some interesting ideas and I thought it was great to see such a prominent figure speaking about these things publicly. I agree with him that we have benefited greatly from the economic system we have had in our recent years, but the time has come, or is coming when we will need to change. We can rethink our ideas about growth, progress and value to create a world which is healthier and happier for all of us.
Worth a watch.