Awesome Hazel wants to know: “I recently heard this quote by Jack London: “A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
To me this implies that we should deprive ourselves of material luxuries in order to help those less fortunate. But that to me seems a very miserable way of living, to be entirely self -sacrificing, surely it’s best to have a balance? Is it ever ok to splash out on luxuries?”
I thought that this was a good time to answer this question. You know, right after I’ve returned from my annual spa vacation, and everything… Is it ever ok to splash out on luxuries? Yes, my dear Awesome Hazel. You bet your sweet ass it is. That’s right boys and girls, it’s going to be another one of those posts. I’m feeling rather ornery of late, so, those of you who enjoy my snarkier side, you’re welcome.
Jack London was wrong, unless…
I don’t want to crap all over Jack London. So, given that I haven’t read any of his books, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe, just maybe, he was making a commentary on the meaning that society had bestowed upon the word “charity”, and frankly, how messed up that was. Or, you know, he was just wrong. Take your pick. Either way, his writings would’ve been more reflective of his own time than ours, and given the speed at which we are evolving (holy schmoly!), it stands to reason that we should just go ahead and dissect everything from our new, current perspective.
Let’s have a look at charity, shall we?
Do we really want to be charitable?
First of all, what exactly is charity? Well, to most people, it means giving some of what you have to someone who has less than you, helping the less fortunate, and helping those who can’t help themselves. For many, just as Jack was reflecting, there’s an element of sacrifice, of suffering for others that goes hand in hand with the helping. In fact, there are still those who believe that the greater our own pain in giving, the more virtuous the gift.
Allow me to respond to that little nugget of “wisdom”: Oh my freaking Gawd, what a bunch of bullshit! *cough* *cough*
When we look at the basis of “charity”, we find the assumption that there are those who need our help. This, and I realize this is going to be a controversial statement, and don’t worry, I will explain myself, is never the case.
We are all infinitely powerful beings, each on our own path and each in control of our own reality. Charity, in the sense that many think of it, is not necessary and not helpful. When we look at someone and notice only their suffering, when we diminish them by thinking that they don’t have the power to help themselves, it not only gives more energy to their pain, therefore increasing it, but it also hurts us. Pity doesn’t feel good. Thinking of someone as broken doesn’t feel good. Looking down upon others doesn’t feel good (unless you’re in a really low place yourself). And, if it doesn’t feel good, then we know that it’s not aligned with our souls, with Who We Really Are, or with Who They (the ones we’re “helping”) Really Are.
Giving from a place of pain is detrimental
So, there we are, looking at someone and focusing on their pain, their poverty, their suffering, and declaring them powerless. We hurt for them. We feel guilty that we have more than they do. And so, we give them something. We give them so much that it hurts us. We’ve been taught that true sacrifice, giving more than we can afford, giving more than we’re comfortable with, is virtuous (i.e. will get us into heaven, or given all the crap we did in our early twenties, at least keep us out of hell). Of course, since this doesn’t feel good, most of us don’t do it very often. We may begrudgingly give a lump of money once a year, actually resenting the idea that we “have to” give, that we’re basically being guilted into giving, and giving more than we’d really like to. But that’s it. The rest of the year, we justify not helping those we think we should (and maybe even those we are inspired to help) by remembering the pain of the sum we already parted with.
When we give from a place of pain, when we give because we think we have to, when we give more than we want to, basically, when we give in any way that doesn’t feel good to us, we are actually perpetuating the energy of what we don’t want.
- We are feeding poverty by focusing upon poverty. Even when we give some money, if it’s done from a place of focus on poverty instead of joy, it doesn’t truly help.
- When allow ourselves to be guilted into giving, and giving more than we want to, we come to resent the very idea of giving. Not only do we then give less overall, but we may very well ignore any intuitive impulse we have to help (which would then be joyful) out of rebellion against having been manipulated into doing so in a way that didn’t feel good.
- Being looked at as broken and helpless and being dealt with from that perspective feels awful. People who are in poverty are not uplifted by those who see them as powerless. True upliftment and help come from a place of alignment.
There are many, many examples of people helping others out of good intentions, but without inspiration, where the outcome was anything but what they had intended. I’m certain that most of you have experienced this in your own lives – you went to offer some helpful advice to someone knowing you were right, and all they did was get annoyed with you.
On a larger scale, whole communities were given aid, only to end up worse after a few years of being “helped” than they were before.
When we align with Who We Really Are, and set the intention to help others (which many of us are born with, so it’s a STRONG intention), we will be inspired to do so. This kind of giving, however, is very, very different.
- If feels good. Always. There’s no guilt that you have more than them.
- Inspired giving is never done from a place of pain. It doesn’t happen because we see the other person as powerless. It just feels joyful to share what we have in that moment with that particular person.
- We don’t feel like we HAVE TO give. We just really, really want to.
- We don’t give more than feels good. We give exactly what feels good. Often, though, that ends up being more than we would’ve given out of guilt.
- The amount we give doesn’t hurt us. In fact, quite often, we end up receiving money in an amount equivalent to or even greater than what we gave. This is why a lot of people think that tithing brings them money. It does, but not because they gave. It was because of the alignment.
- We always give in the right way – we are inspired to offer what will truly make a change, not what we think would help. There’s usually a huge difference between those two.
It’s not actually about giving
Inspired giving isn’t about giving at all. It’s about allowing someone else to manifest through us. That’s why the money or possessions we give don’t hurt us – we either get the value back, or had extra to begin with. It doesn’t feel like sacrifice, because it’s not. It’s just energy flowing through us to another human being. That kind of action, inspired action, benefits us. It leads us closer to what we really want, and at the same time, allows the recipient of our kindness to manifest something they really want. Inspired giving always leads to a positive manifestation – it will truly benefit the recipient, AND, it will always benefit the giver. Inspired action always leads to a win-win.
This is not charity. There is no need and there is no sacrifice. It’s just two (or more) souls coming together, being willing to play with each other. One has a desire to help (truly helping others is really, really fun. Helping from a place of misalignment is frustrating as hell), and one has a desire to be helped (not a NEED. A desire.)
So, I shouldn’t give money to the homeless?
Nope, not if you’re not inspired to. But, if you have a true desire to help others, you may well find yourself being inspired to help more than you’ve ever done before, once you take the guilt and manipulation out the equation. In fact, the Universe will knock itself out bringing you opportunities to truly help.
The belief that giving has to be painful is a false one. It contradicts the energy of joyful, truly helpful giving. So, when you release that perspective, you open up the energy flow and allow the manifestation of true, joyful giving to occur. Imagine that.
And then, you may not be inspired to give a dollar. You may be inspired to organize the neighborhood and find a true, permanent solution to homelessness, or stray dogs, or kids with no playgrounds, or whatever cause you’re passionate about. You’ll be inspired to fine others who share your vision and vibration. This is when a few people move mountains and often accomplish something that seemed impossible until that point. This is when whole communities change and benefit. Inspired help changes people. It changes communities. It changes the recipients and the givers. Inspired help has the power to change the world.
Depriving ourselves of luxuries doesn’t help the world. Depriving ourselves of joy of any kind is detrimental to us and everyone who shares our reality. Splurge on anything that makes you feel truly good, which may well include giving to others as well as yourself.
Rewriting Jack London’s quote
Having said all that, I’d like to dissect Jack London’s quote. So, you have a hungry dog, a hungry person and one bone. Ok, the quote had two scenarios, one where the person was hungry and one where he wasn’t, but considering that you’d be a total douchebag to not give a hungry puppy a bone when you don’t even want it, I’ll stick with the part of the quote that deals with charity, shall I?
Option 1: You eat the bone. The dog starves to death. You feel really bad.
Option 2: You share the bone. There’s not much meat on the bone, so both of you are still hungry. But now you don’t feel so guilty. You both starve to death, but presumably you get to go to heaven.
Option 3: You eat the bone. The dog doesn’t starve to death. Because dogs eat poop, y’all. In fact, the chances that the dog will find something to eat in the street that you wouldn’t touch with a surgical glove are pretty damn high.
Option 4: You play with the dog for a few minutes, raising your vibration, and then someone is inspired to offer you a full meal and a bowl of dog food for your dog. Then, because you’re still vibing high, the restaurant where you’re eating offers you a job. Oh yes, this does happen.
Option 5: You call the CDC and hand over the bone, because your iPhone told you that random big old fleshy bones found in the street will most likely have come from a murder victim or something. And even though you’re hungry, you’re not willing to go all Hannibal Lecter just yet. Plus, you’re a vegetarian. Also, this isn’t the 1800’s, Jack London. People aren’t just chucking away bones anymore. In fact, many of us tend to giggle like thirteen year old boys when we talk about “eating a bone”. Mind you, we are not proud of ourselves, but you’re the one who brought it up, Jack. Just saying.
Now it’s your turn. Have you ever been manipulated or guilted into giving? How do you react to such attempts now? Have you experienced inspired giving, instead? Share your experiences in the comments!