Only Give What You Can Afford To Loose

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While generosity is certainly a virtue, it is not necessarily an action. The simply act of giving something doesn’t mean a person is being selfless or altruistic, it could be that they are hoping to get a return on another favor of their own. This is a quid pro quo, but when the agreement is implied, it is not actually an agreement. Sometimes we help a friend move, or we go their birthday party, or cover the tab at dinner, and we have the subtle expectation that there is an unspoken exchange between us. This might be true, but there really is no way to know.

If covering the tab at dinner implies that the other person should buy the first round of drinks at the bar, it might be best to settle that matter before the cash is handed to the waitstaff. This leaves room for complicated conversations later about expectations that were not acknowledged or clearly defined and obligations that can go unfulfilled, causing emotional harm along the way.

Generosity is giving without the expectation of any return. That is actually a tall order, because in some sense it means that fortune is required for generosity. If you can not afford to give, and you need a return, then you can not give freely. Banks do diligence to ensure that there is a high likelihood that their loans will be repaid, but in the case of defaulted loans they have insurance and cash reserves that make it possible for them to continue on without harm. Most people can afford to lend something, but in general they do not have the kind of financial resources at their disposal that banks do.

For all the passion that we might have for a cause or person we must also temper our desire to be of service so that we don’t end up over extending ourselves, this not only puts us in harms way but can put stress on our relationships when it is time call in all the favors.

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