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Why do we give? Well, it’s complicated…

December 24, 2009 Leave a comment

‘Tis the season, as they say, and at this time of year there is much focus on both giving and receiving.

The New York Post offers an article chock full of the positive reasons we give:

Empathy-driven goodwill is the core of kindness. And it feels good to exercise it. When we help each other, it not only alleviates some measure of suffering in others, it reduces the fear that we are ultimately alone in the world. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the most powerful charities are those whose works are visible, meaningful and effective.

The article goes on to explain that charity involves a “leap of faith,” and says that we are shaken to our very core when a charity is fraudulent.

Brandenberger says teenagers are particularly susceptible to feelings of anger or shame. They recognize they’re less advantaged than those doing the giving. They can also detect messages suggesting the charity is due to a deficit in themselves.

“If you come to save the other person, it implies they can’t save themselves, which is a pretty big critique.

“No one wants to discourage giving at Christmas time. But giving could be complex for the receiver, and a knowledge of that would be a good thing to add to the situation.

As one of the psychologists in the Star article says, “We should come at it with the idea that we’re all in this together.”

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net