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Tony Grist

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An Unseasonal Truth [Dec. 14th, 2008|10:21 am]
Tony Grist
I'm sorry to say it, but Dickens was wrong. The Cratchitts would have hated the new, benevolent Scrooge even more than they hated the old, miserly one. You can't buy love by turning up on the doorstep cutting capers and waving a turkey by the neck. A benefactor- especially one there's no hope of repaying- is universally despised.

I've lost friends by being kind to them- and also because they were kind to me. Gifts- big one-sided gifts- can kill a relationship. Equality is replaced by obligation. Much better to sever the link than to be reminded every time you see a person's shining face that you owe them one. They say you should give anonymously so as not to reap the gratitude; I say you should give anonymously so as not to reap the resentment.

There are times when you have no choice but to give- because it's the only moral thing to do- but you shouldn't expect a reward. Rather the reverse.

[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2008-12-14 04:16 pm (UTC)
I think we are very invested in a myth that we are all self-sufficient and independent, and that we don't need one another to survive... and any time someone deflates that myth, we struggle. We want to be virtuous, and part of virtue is not dragging on other people's resources, or being a drain on society.

I think the other part of is is that there is no putting a monetary value on some of the intangibles that each person gives to others and society at large, and asking them to measure it against gifts, which often have a direct monetary value, causes a disconnect in the head (this happens to me frequently when I price art originals: what is the experience of art worth? The time it took me to paint it? The materials I used to create it? Is there any way to put a value on what, say, a book gives you when you read it?).

I have noticed ingratitude in myself and one of my current "things to work on" is learning to receive gracefully, knowing I will in turn be giving to others at some point but that to do that I need to accept help when it is offered. It is surprisingly difficult to receive compliments, gifts and help gracefully, and requires a great deal of humility and love for others.
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