Friday, May 16, 2014

Generosity

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
— John Bunyan


Photo Courtesy of Tip A Cop 
Over the last few days I have witnessed hundreds and hundreds (perhaps thousands and thousands) of people show acts of generosity, from volunteers for the Breakaway From Cancer campaign  ("Breakaway from Cancer represents a partnership between Amgen and four nonprofit organizations dedicated to empowering patients with education, resources and hope, wherever they may be in the cancer care continuum");  to the hundreds of people volunteering to walk in oppressive heat to raise awareness and funds towards this campaign; followed by at least 400 people who either volunteered or donated funds in support of Special Olympics--in just one of many communities.



What is generosity?  From the University of Notre Dame, College of Arts and Letters:  

The Science of Generosity Usage
For our purposes, we use the word generosity to refer to the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.
Generosity thus conceived is a learned character trait that involves both attitude and action—entailing as a virtue both an inclination or predilection to give liberally and an actual practice of giving liberally.
Generosity is therefore not a random idea or haphazard behavior but rather, in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life. Furthermore, in a world of moral contrasts, generosity entails not only the moral good expressed but also many vices rejected (selfishness, greed, fear, meanness).
Generosity also involves giving to others not simply anything in abundance but rather giving those things that are good for others. Generosity always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of those to whom it gives.
What exactly generosity gives can be various things: money, possessions, time, attention, aid, encouragement, emotional availability, and more.
Generosity, to be clear, is not identical to pure altruism, since people can be authentically generous in part for reasons that serve their own interests as well as those of others. Indeed, insofar as generosity is a virtue, to practice it for the good of others also necessarily means that doing so achieves one’s own true, long–term good as well.
And so generosity, like all of the virtues, is in people’s genuine enlightened self-interest to learn and practice.



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