12 February, 2006

Learning to Recieve

One of my favourite bloggers, Guy Kawasaki, wrote a blog entry with the title “How to Be a Mensch”. Though thoughtful and interesting, his ideas do tend to follow along the lines that a true mensch is someone who learns to give freely and generously, which is certainly a very admirable thing to practice. Yet, I don’t think the hardest lesson we have to learn about the precarious nature of our humanity is learning how to give, but rather learning how to receive. Especially, in times (e.g. life-threatening illness, war, famine) or in circumstances (e.g. a car accident, flood, snow storm) when we know at the very moment we are receiving, that we will never be able to give back, I believe that we feel what it is to be a mensch.

In North American or European societies, giving your time, money, charity, road directions, information, etc. to others, though often altruistic acts, presume that you can “afford” to give what you are giving. In a very subtle way, an act of giving is a demonstration of strength, and there are even people on this earth who feel superior when they give to those less fortunate. Sorry, wandering…

What I really wanted to say was that a true mensch is someone who knows how to receive, embrace even, the altruistic acts of others in a moment of personal need, even though they know that they might never be able to repay the gesture. We should ask ourselves not only what we have given but what we have received, and did we do it graciously.

No comments:

Post a Comment