Generosity Day

by Vicki on February 14, 2012

Saturday afternoon I ran in to a Safeway to pick up a few items. On my way back to the car, a man called out to me. I wasn’t certain what he said at first, but after he spoke a few more sentences I got the gist – he was without money and unable to get himself home. He appeared to be highly intoxicated.

He then clearly said, “No one will help me.”

I weighed my options. I didn’t think he was going to be able to get himself home without significant help, I didn’t have money on me to give him and I didn’t feel safe bringing him home myself.

I decided that some words of encouragement were all I could offer that day.

I left feeling as though I’d made the wrong decision. I’m still not certain how I could have been most helpful to him. But I feel I let someone in need down.

Fast forward to Monday morning when I found Sasha Dichter’s blog.

What brought me to his blog was a comment on Twitter about his “generosity experiment”. He too experienced a situation where he wished he had responded differently to a request for help.

As he describes,

The experiment was an intuitive, gut reaction to an incongruence I felt between my commitment to creating massive social change, my work with philanthropists to support this mission, and how I saw myself behave in the face of acute need right in front of me.  The “Experiment” was just that: a chance to test what it felt like to live with a totally different orientation.  It was a commitment to take a door that was too closed for my taste and open it wide.

If you follow the PROVOKE blog regularly, you might be wondering why we’ve decided to post on Tuesday versus Friday….it’s because along with being Valentine’s Day it is also Generosity Day 2012.

In the past year, many of the projects we’ve have had the opportunity to work on revolve around tough social problems that require a shift in thinking from the “me” to the “we” (i.e., we are all interconnected and in this together).  We feel that the intent behind the concepts of generosity and giving are an important piece of the puzzle.

So go ahead and live Sasha’s advice for today:

Today you can give yourself permission to be outrageously kind, irrationally warm, improbably generous.  I promise it will be a blast.

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