The Art of Giving

The disparity prevailing in the society engulfs a child immediately at the time of birth. Since the dawn of civilization, the distribution of wealth among people has always been non-uniform, for reasons both natural & man made. All societies have seen segments of ‘haves’ & ‘have-nots’. Attempts by certain rulers to create & cultivate more prosperity for their subjects could raise the average level of wealth, but could not eliminate the divide & the gap.

Ironically, no child can choose his/her time, place & family of birth. Viewed purely from a social angle, it is a harsh reality that nature pushes a powerless child into a particular set of social & cultural conditions, which could be nice or nasty. The child is, therefore, bound to carry the resultant harvest of these conditions on his shoulders until he is able to attempt to bring in the desired changes through his efforts as he advances in age. His efforts can make some difference of a few notches here & there but the distance of his social slot from any of the extreme ends of the progressive scale of wealth almost remains near to the inherited level, barring a few exceptions.

The whole world is witness to the gap between the rich & the poor. There are people on almost all parts of the inhabited globe who can barely make both ends meet. Slum children trying to fish out a rotten piece of eatable from the garbage dumps, is a common sight in most of the developing countries. Dust & silt smudged kids, draped in tattered clothes, exhibit the guts to relish the stale food so proudly disposed of by a nose-twitching home maker. It comes as a big relief to the original owner if someone can make use of his waste and throwaway items, the proper disposal of which can give a pain in the neck to many. Religious ceremonies, social rituals & festive occasions also drive many to dole out alms, food, clothing & other usable articles to the not so privileged.

‘Giving’, therefore, has been as much a part of any society as the divide between the ‘haves’ & the ‘have-nots’. The more caring ones have been known to make donations & contributions to religious places, night shelters, charitable institutions & welfare clubs to do their bit in alleviating some hardship of fellow human beings. On a more fashionable level, ‘giving’ takes up the form of gifting.

givingBut, is all this giving devoid of any kind of selfish interest? It is not uncommon to see the names of the donors engraved in stones or painted on the articles donated to religious places & charitable institutions. Clubs & groups, established to render service to the mankind, also do not hesitate to grab the headlines & media attention in any possible form. All this is a way of earning publicity for the giver. The media coverage of bulk donations seems incomplete without print of flashy images. Giving during religious rituals also ignites a desire for some divine benefit in return.

Giving, with some intended benefit in return, is not selfless giving. It, in fact, assumes the form of business where the gains may not directly be monetary.

Selfless, anonymous giving takes much more grit & determination than giving for building up the public image of the self. Giving, not riddance, to light up the eyes & heart of the receiver, without getting a feeling of being superior & without seeking a benefit in return, is the real art of giving. The sole motive in this case is to help the less privileged & to some extent make the receiver feel better. This form of giving spreads pure, unblemished joy. Many donation boxes in the temples & other public places have been reported to have sprung up surprise contributions of precious jewelry, high currency notes & other negotiable instruments, with donors having left no trace of their identity. This turns out to be the finest display of their Fine Art of Giving.

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