December 22, 2009

on giving to receive

NPR ran a story this morning on giving. Giving has become "cool." In fact, it's a major marketing tool. Companies market how they give to worthy causes in order to get your business.

Yeah, for conscientious capitalism!

That sounded sarcastic.

I do honestly applaud this kind of thing when it seems genuine AND these acts of "giving back" do actually compensate for what many corporations take away. But this morning's program made some good points about the more subtle impact this has on our thinking.

"I do feel like, as a country, we have lost a sense of morality for its own sake," says Harvard professor and psychologist Richard Weissbourd, who teaches about moral development. "You should just be generous to be generous. You should do what's right because it's right, not because of what you get back."

Weissbourd goes on to say:
"I worry that that's what kids begin to think giving is — serving your needs and other peoples' needs. And they don't have an image in their head of another kind of giving: a tenacious, low-profile kind of altruism that's really just about the other person, and not about you," he says. "And I think we're in really deep trouble as a society if that sense of morality for its own sake evaporates."

In our capitalist culture is this sheer idealism? Naive? Or is Weissbourd right? Afterall, for Christians, this is a principle encouraged in Scripture (see Matthew 6.2-4). But in such a selfish culture do we compromise and be content with giving to receive? Or do we expect more out of ourselves and those companies we support? And if they don't market how they give, how do we know that they are responsible?

Curious to read your thoughts... and to see if Pearson's the first to weigh in.

Posted via web from jason evans

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