Monday, March 28, 2011

More money = less humanity ?

The word 'humanity' stems from the Latin word 'humanitatem' meaning mankind, the human race. When you look it up in the dictionary, you'll find that it has a couple of meanings ranging from 'human race', through 'man's nature', to'field of classical studies'. Its synonyms would be f.e. goodwill, kindness and benevolence. Generosity, giving and sharing are just a step away.

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Why is it that the more we have, the less we give to others?
How come the more money's involved, the less humane people turn?

I know that those questions have been asked a million times over and I don't think anyone's come up with a sensible explanation. I don't think anyone could, as it's so illogical!

What got the issue back on my mind?

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I was talking to some people about my trip to Indonesia and it involved going to Egypt beforehand. I spent 3 days in Cairo and mentioning that leg of my trip made me remember noticing a very surprising and heartwarming phenomenon which I haven't had the chance to write about, as I didn't have a blog back then.The phenomenon I want to mention is how sharing and generous Egyptians are. And I don't mean what great hosts or welcoming people I believe them to be, but how they share however little they have with strangers. I especially remember two situations that will prove my case.

Together with E, my CS friend in Cairo, I visited the so-called 'Garbage City'.  People there are very poor, life conditions are awful, the streets look like a dumpster (because actually, they more or less are one..). We were on our way up to the church and were passing a man who was standing and eating some sunflower seeds he had in his hand. E, fancing the idea of a seed or two himself, walked up to the man and told him to give him some of his seeds. The man smiled and gave away half of what he had, not even rising an eyebrow that a stranger expected him to share his food.
The second situation happened when we were trying to park in the old Muslim part of Cairo. There was a huge traffic jam, heat pouring down from the sky and a half an hour line to the parking lot. When we finally managed to drive up to the ticketing office (we'll call it so for the sake of this post ;) ), E saw a bottle of water standing at the counter next to the usher. He asked him to give him some and the bottle was immediately handed over. He took a couple of sips, gave the bottle back and drove away to find our parking space. Yet again, no surprise or annoyance on the part of the usher.

Both of the times I felt really strange. Strange was the part how rude it seemed to me that E would come up to someone and ask them for their belongings just like that. Strange was how that someone didn't mind this kind of behaviour and shared whatever they had without a word of discontent.

Why was it strange though? 
First of all, because in our culture, where $ is so damn' important, what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours. I bought and paid for it, therefore you have no business getting your hands on it.

Second of all, because I knew both men were poor and had way less money than me or E. Asking them to share what they had (knowing how little that was in general, and how much that asked-for-part of it was to them) seemed wrong, a bit like stealing actually. To them, however, it was natural in a way. If I have something and you want or need it, why not give it to you?

As I've already said - I did feel a bit awkward seeing E's behaviour at first, because I didn't understand it, wasn't used to such a conduct. When I gave it a bit of thought though, I realised how cool that was. Cool, because to be able to be so blunt (E) or generous (sunflower seeds man, usher) with others, you have to have some kind of a feeling of belonging, of brotherhood or some other relationship with them. Cool, because although they were total strangers, they felt close and comfortable enough to act the way they did.

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Once again - the men we encountered were poor, owned little, and yet were eager to share with us.
Now think of yourself, your friends and strangers in your city.

Say you didn't know me. I saw you munching on fries or drinking a soft drink and just came up to you asking to give me what you had left, what would you do? And even if you did know me and I did the exact same thing (without giving you any reasons, apologising or saying anything beyond "Give me some"), what would you think?
And we all have at least ten times more any of the mentioned people did.
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It is most illogical!

More so that when you play with the words money and humanity, you'll see that the latter contains the first ..
Say them out loud with me.



Shouldn't it be natural then that the more money you have, the more hyu-money-tee there is in you...?

1 komentarze:

Marcin said...

Shouldn't it be natural then that the more money you have, the more hyu-money-tee there is in you...?

I think it goes the other way around. Where do you have all this money from? In reality there are two ways of that valuable asset acquisition — either you earned that money (by steady income from 0 to n€), or you have rich family (instant n€).

Now, adding the sharing part… Either you share and then your asset management is terrible, and you realize that you must fix it to have more €€€ by cutting sharing expenses (because you won't cut your own expenses, right?). Or you don't share and become rich, and still don't have sharing experience to pass to your progeny.

Or… You share from the beginning, have a job providing steady income, feel great, and don't talk about the money. You don't care about the money, you care about the people, the experience, the smile… But I agree, that it's fscking hard in our wester culture. :(