I was listening to an audio my boyfriend played for me by Subonfu (not sure how to spell her name) in which she was discussing the value of receiving and the difference between that and taking.
The way she told it, when a person gives of their own will, and in turn when the person to whom that generosity is bequeathed accepts that gift graciously, it is in some way a sign of abundance.
The alternative is to take what someone cannot spare to give. She talked about how Western society is taught to feel unworthy or to struggle with receiving and to think that if we accept help or generosity from others it is to leave us indebted to the giver. That is a from view and also assumes disparity, that there isn’t enough to share. So, when we receive, we honour the giver and we encourage abundance. To me it feels like how our thoughts and feelings can shape our reality. Giving is easy. Receiving is so much harder. This is definitely true for me. I can really relate to what she said about feelings of guilt or indebtedness when someone gives to me. It is a struggle to overcome those feelings, and I found her words inspiring.
Another thing came to mind while listening to her. She was speaking from the position of the individual, but when applied to a larger scale, to a community or a state or nation, her words have the ability to drastically reshape our collective views regarding social welfare. And it occured to me that by relying on force to take from some to give to others is counterproductive. It creates resentment in a lot of people for not being allowed to give of their own free will and it creates a sense of entitlement on those who receive welfare. Subonfu talked about this at the individual level and what kind of impact this has, and she comes from one of the poorest countries on earth! Of course, there will always be a need to help others, but rather than doing so through forced taxation, wouldn’t it be wonderful and so much better if people could give freely as they see fit? And this brings us back to what is truly lacking in our Western societies: a sense of community. We live in neighbourhoods where we know so few of our neighbours, if at all. We live only for ourselves and maybe those within our immediate families, but gone are the days when extended family meant something to us, and when the village was a strong, close-knit community. Subonfu spoke about how her people were so close that there were no secrets and nothing was really private, because they were like one family. And in such community, everyone has their place, their purpose. Everyone pulls together to get the work done, to provide for the tribe, and to help one another.
Meaningful change starts within the individual, in each and every one of us. And when we change ourselves for the better, we change the world through the example we show.