The author, Xhao Xiaoping
The following is a translated community article from one of our TFish contributors, Zhao Xiaoping. It highlights the idea of giving and what it means to truly give. Find the original story here.
In the philosophy of love, giving comes first, but merely giving does not really define what love is. To understand giving in its entirety--what to give, to whom to give, who gives, and how to give--is something worth personally experiencing and pondering about all our life.
For some, “giving” is painful; it is an action of sacrificing oneself for the success of another. Therefore, those who have the “transaction personality” will usually refuse to give because they want to gain something in return. In contrast, others think that sacrificing is a virtue; although giving can be painful, it is still necessary to sacrifice. Thus, it is a virtue when we give, even if the individual receives nothing in the end. Giving is never something to regret!
However, we now need to truly understand the universal meaning of “giving.” To explain this phenomenon, Fromm created an insightful explanation: “Giving is the fullest presentation of human ability. Through giving I have felt my own power, treasure, and ability. This power of life and consequent sublimation completely fills me with joy. I’m happy because I myself feel that I’m abundant, rich, and full of vitality. ‘Giving’ is much more rewarding than ‘receiving.’ Giving has not felt like a sacrifice because through the process of giving has my vitality shown!”
The theory of universalism suggests that everybody is an entity to be appreciated and that all people are full of life existing in the world; consequently, each individual’s life is full of the most valuable things to “give.” This renders the question: So what are these “valuable things”? Are they abundant materials? Prominent abilities and leadership? Exquisite master crafts? No, these are not at the forefront of valuables to give. The “giving” that Fromm references means “to give the part that encompasses the true spirit of life: happiness, interest, understanding, knowledge, humor, and sorrow, all the vital elements of life." Through giving, one makes others rich, and through promoting the sensation of life itself, he also enhances others’ sensation of life. Through giving, one arouses something full of life in others, and in return, he himself is also affected. In truly “giving,” he has to accept things returned to him. Thus, “giving” means that others also become “givers;” it forms a continuous circle that spreads the happiness in life.
Thus, “everyone can give” is not a saying in vain. If everyone can accept our giving, why don't we start from loving those around us, regardless of whether they are strangers who pass by or people with whom we are familiar? Moreover, why don't we start by loving ourselves? Only through loving ourselves first can we be more confident to give. Afterwards, “giving” would not be a deliberate action, but rather a result that naturally flows out of our heart.
For an individual, giving is not a one-way action. Likewise, within a society, giving is also an interaction that influences different parts of a whole. When giving, we need to consider the appropriateness of the action and, especially, whether our aid will truly be valuable. We should support those who devote themselves to serving others, but also recognize that we should exercise shrewdness when giving—for instance, if a family separated and went bankrupt as a result of our giving, it would be a tragedy of irrationality. Frozen running water is not due to one day’s cold weather, but rather a result of collection of problems left over years which require many people’s effort to solve. To kill the root of the cause, a calm attitude and patience is most needed.
True giving is not the feeling of being more successful than others, and it is not the self-satisfaction of “helping others to help self.” Its highest state transcends above merely giving; it is to enjoy the happiness and value between the communication among each other. And here, it has achieved the unification of loving others and being loved.
Article translated by TFish staff Shishi Ma; edited by U.S. Intern Ally Nguyen.
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