September 16, 2014

On Generosity

I'm currently reading Dale Carnegie's How To Make Friends And Influence People (the version revised to match with our modern, tech-obsessed world), and am finding it truly interesting!

In it, there's a chapter talking about 'sharing the credit' for all the successes you encounter, and doing so genuinely gratefully, for then will you reinforce your relationships with people. They then use a homily to beautifully illustrate this fact:

The Sea of Galilee is teeming with fish and life. The Dead Sea is dead and devoid of life. They are both fed by the sparkling water of the River Jordan, so what's the difference? The Sea of Galilee gives all its water away. The Dead Sea keeps it all for itself. Like the Dead Sea, when we keep all that is fresh and good for ourselves, we turn our lives into a briny soup of salty tears.


  1. I am curious if it is true for most people, but the older I am the more fun I get from giving away. Well, maybe subconsciously I want to score points somewhere :)

    1. Points as in tax deductions? JK :P I always feel much better about giving things to people rather than receiving them. When I get presents, I get embarrassed and feel like I should have provided for myself instead, so I automatically add the gifter on my list of giftee (if such terms were to exist) so I can make sure I don't owe anyone. Which is strange, considering I don't expect things in return when I give out presents...
      Ah well, when did I ever make sense? :)

    2. Lukasz, Andrew Carnegie spent half his life amassing his 500 Million dollar fortune. And the other half of his life he spent giving it all away!!

  2. Totally unrelated to anything you write about (and probably contrary to your outlook on life). I am just reading about the massacre of Louvain (Leuven) 100 years ago where the Germans (not the Nazis) burned large part of the city including the university library that housed a great collection of medieval books. They executed many hundreds of civilians and burned 2,000 houses. I can't fathom how humans can do these things. The murderers were representatives of a nation that produced Bach, Goethe, Einstein, etc., I once wrote in a book review (can't find the exact phrasing) that the emergence of the human race has been the worst disaster on Earth.

    1. I can't comprehend it either. And yet, humans can be the source of such amazing things as well, founts of love and empathy. So whenever such terrible events get me down, I remember the following words by Patton Oswalt about the Boston Marathon bombing:

      Boston. Fucking horrible.

      I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

      But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

      But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

      But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, they damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

      So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance, or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."