Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank You Very Much

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be on the receiving end of others' goodwill?

A personal example: Someone I did not know in my neighbourhood somehow knew I and my small family were without all the trimmings for a Christmas dinner. They arrive at my door on December 25th, brimming with good intent, goodies in hand to give us. I ought to have been grateful; in awe of their kind thoughtfulness and to thank them profusely for thinking of us. But, for me, this was demeaning, soul destroying and downright embarrassing. I took everything and thanked them but didn't eat the turkey as we were/are vegans.

If this were a gift economy, the matter would never come up, because gift economies are essentially giving circles, not chains from giver to givee. But in cultures where charity is preferred over government programs that universally fill in the gaps, there must always be someone who needs. How else can 'Christian charity' be exercised and thus through such selfless acts the givers receive additional blessing? (So how 'selfless' is it? Charity is a requirement of the Christian faith.)

Yea, Ocean and I get that giving feels good. We'd like to help a whole lot more than we already do (yes, we help one another). Where and when it's welcome. Where and when it preserves the dignity and autonomy of the recipient. Not for our own damn sakes, because it feels so good or because our 'souls' will receive a bonus benediction.

1 comment:

Chrystal Ocean said...

Re your personal story, Daphne, I experienced something similar. Same time of year. Same critter, but it was HUGE. And uncooked. Not only didn't I eat turkey, I hadn't the kitchen equipment to cook the damn thing. No roasting pan or utensils for same.

When my neighbour turned up at my door with it, I was completely taken aback. How to respond? "No thank you" was the first and only thing that came out of my mouth. He was stunned, shocked and hurt. I didn't think to explain I hadn't the means to cook it. Because I too was stunned, shocked and hurt.