Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why do we give?

It might seem absurd to ask the question “why do we give?”, now when one has been writing about various aspects of giving for a month. Is it necessary to understand our motive for giving ? Is giving a learnt behaviour or is it an inherent one ? Does motivation for giving stem from a common cause or does it vary across communities and cultures ? Do we need to answer these questions? Is it not more important to continue giving ?

To answer the last question first, it is definitely essential to continue giving. Discovering the answers to the other questions will help us to sustain our giving. We have in other posts presented the view that ‘giving’ is inherent and instinctive. Witness a newborn mother with her child, whether in a 5 star hospital or in a remote village at home, there is a spontaneous joy and an immediate need to protect and nurture. That is ‘giving’. A child grows up with this basic desire to share and the experiences of sharing and giving, when positive, increases this and he / she grows up to be a ‘giving’ person. The positive experience one is talking about is what economist James Andreoni calls the ‘warm-glow theory’., where he argues that internal motives for giving are more important than having a building named after one, or saving on tax by contributing to charity. The feeling that one has contributed towards making the world a better place, is what leads to the glow and so one continues to give.

Image Source

That is why we give : to cherish, to nurture, to protect, to better, circumstances, people, the world. Indigenous cultures have understood this concept very well and not for nothing is it said “It takes a whole village to raise a child” (African proverb).

Source: JGW

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  1. Hey, thats simple , yet intense sharing.

    "It takes a whole village to raise a child” Loved this line!!

  2. its very terse ... will like to read a lot about this concept. interesting - this one.