Nov 13 0 Comments

The madness of generous

GenerosityKaren Blixen, the author of Out of Africa said that “the only thing we are allowed to bring with us from our lives here in earth, are the things we have given away.”

I thought about that today, and decided that if I really believed that, then I would give away a lot more. I also thought that if we all believed it, the world would be a much better place, for all of us.

Most of us, me included, don’t believe it. So we hoard here in this world, and give as little as possible away. I do, and at times it is to the extreme. I have for example found beautiful greeting cards in my drawers that I bought 20 years ago, but I wanted to save them for just the right occasion. Now their edges are yellow and the images look very dated. It is also a known fact that I don’t like to share my chocolate.

I try not to get too involved in politics. I have plenty of opinions, and know with whom my sympathies lay. But I don’t want people to put me in a box. Boxes make me claustrophobic. However, there are times one just has to speak up, and run the risk of getting put in a box.

I just read in the news some days ago that the world’s 2000 richest people own more than combined the GNP of India, Russia and a long list of other countries. (I am typically disorganized and can’t find the article, or the quote, but I am telling you the truth. You can do the math for yourself.) You wonder why any one person should have to own that much money. When they are all going to die, and bring nothing with them, except what they gave away.

Our new government was strutting with pride as it presented its first annual budget. In it they promised tax cuts for the richest men and women in Norway. They also promise that we Norwegians all will get more spending money with them, the new government, making the decisions. And who doesn’t want more? I am just asking.

In the same breath they suggested cutting the amount of money we give to the poor. And, of course, they wanted to decrease the number of refugees we receive. It is, after all, our country, our money, our stuff. Why should we share? Of the more than one million refugees who have fled the war in Syria, our government wants to receive 500. I repeat: 500. They cut the number from the original 1000, which already was embarrassingly small, to 500.

Norway is, by most standards and statistics, considered the richest nation in the world. I believe it. Just come and see for yourself. Where else do 16-year olds whose parents work as teachers and truck drivers wear jackets that cost more than 1000 USD a piece? Where else is more than one international trip a year the norm, not the exception?

You would think our riches would make us more generous and thankful for the gift of wealth. But no. That is not how it works. It makes us greedier, and less thankful. Since we have so much, we want more.

I have experienced more hospitality and generosity among refugees than I have experienced among my own people. This is sad.

And I wonder if we are not all the same way as my rich countrymen and women. Aren’t we all giving away less as we are getting more? I hope it is not true, but take a close look at your own life, and at your own country. And if is true, ask yourself how you can make it change.

It starts with me. It starts with you. But as soon as you and I have gotten a head start, I think it is perfectly fine to start demanding the same standards from our leaders and governments. If we don’t speak about this greed madness, then who will?