Giving back: does it imply you took away?

Give Back

Giving Back

This seems to be a word-based argument, like the famous one about walking a circle around a man who keeps turning to face you. Did you walk around him or not? What does the word “around” mean, and by whose definition?

They’re objecting to the phrase “give back” and in particular to the word “back.”

It is normal for humans who have more to feel uncomfortable when they encounter someone who has little or nothing. If someone doesn’t feel uncomfortable, then they could be as maladjusted as the person who doesn’t care what their fellows think of them.

The altruistic motive is one of the strongest reasons humans survived and flourished as a species. Many mammals also display this trait. Eugène Marais wrote about it in “The Soul of the Ape.”

And there are good economic reasons for altruism too. After the United States freed the slaves in 1865, it created a large group of individuals who would contribute more to GDP than the value of their low-cost labor had previously. The same happened in South Africa in 1990.

There’s another economic benefit. Call them upliftment programs or people development, they are not as productive when conducted by government as when private enterprise steps in. I’ll bet that if Andrew Carnegie hadn’t endowed those 2,509 libraries but given the money to government to spend, only half or less would have been built.

Almost all entertainers conclude their performance by thanking the audience. They know that they owe their fame to the public. It’s not a lot of fun to perform to an empty house.

Giving back is a term used often in marketing. You’ll get more attention when you promise to give something back. So it’s not a dirty word at all.

And finally, while we may all feel the need to give to those less fortunate than us, not everyone is able to. We may not have the spare cash, or the need to work every day to earn enough to keep going means we don’t have the time to devote to charitable works. Viva the philanthropists.



About oldfossil

Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm decrepit.
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