I am talking one day with the carpenter who is helping us finish up the last part of construction on our home. We are conversing about vegetables and fruit trees; swapping stories around how we are struggling to get some of the harvest before the animals take it all. He tells me a funny story about a relative who sits, day by day, poised to kill anything that takes even a single piece of fruit off of one of his trees. Shaking his head, he says to me, “Isn’t there enough for everyone?”
My God, what a concept.The resonance of this simple question strikes deeply within me. Not just the words, but how he said it. As in, why do we ignore this truth? Why do we act as though there is not enough for everyone? Why do we make insuring that meeting everyone’s basic needs is more difficult, political, and judgmental than it actually is?
While I love many of the basic tenets around capitalism (not something, by the way, we have at this point in time), for a long while now I have been realizing it is not enough. That it needs to be supplemented, not legislated, with a philosophy that includes heart, soul, and human scale actions. Personally, I really resonate with the idea of sharing, and in my mind, this is very different than charity.
Sharing comes when I take what I have, and naturally and spontaneously spread around what I have as I encounter others with a need. It is an exchange between equals that has nothing to do with elaborate giving plans, tax write-offs, or “the “have’s and the have-not’s,” but instead is born out of the moment and from a call within that is looking for nothing in return; other than a chance to give. It is a kind of “what goes around comes around.” A loop, where I am both giver and receiver at some point in the cycle.
Charity, on the other hand, implies a hierarchy, and a hand out. A way where one of us is below, and one of us is above. Pity, guilt, resentment, and desperation are often the companions of charitable one-way “exchanges.”
What if we all took stock of what it is that we have more of than we need? And then decided to look around for where we might share that abundance. This is not done as a way to save anyone, or to boost a sense of ourselves as being “the generous one,” but as the purest recognition of how resources are meant to be available for all. And how that spreading of resources can initiate from anyone, and at any time; no matter their circumstances.
What do you have more of than you need? What could you intentionally plant, create, or generate more of so that you would have some left over to share? How about your time, understanding, patience, or willingness to be with someone if even for a moment? Not because you feel bad for anyone. But because you can. And because it matters.
Can you imagine a world where we fed one another out of generosity and abundance? A kind of continuous back and forth reciprocal relationship with those we come in contact with? Not something we do because we are looking for anything, but because it is truly the most natural way to be with one another, and with what is available.