Among the traits that are most admired in people is generosity. The notion of giving of one’s efforts, possessions or financial support, particularly when it is not done for self-aggrandizement, is considered quite moral and even noble.  The emphasis here is making and preserving imprints in one’s giving, which effects for the giver, become subservient in importance to how these imprints are received by one or more others and how these received imprints are preserved by these one or more others in a positive way.  Giving becomes more meaningful when it is lasting.  When the received imprints are either lasting because the good effects continue to resonate or because the people receiving the imprints continue to experience the memories of them long after the external world effects of them have actually disappeared. 

But not all giving is done in a spirit of generosity. Many times, the focus on the good deeds for the giver is on how the imprints he makes with them impact his own life rather than the lives on whom the imprints are actually impressed.  The focus is on his own return from his actions rather than on the return for the receivers of his imprints.

Sometimes the focus for the imprinter is not on how his actions directly impact his own life in terms of the imprints he receives from himself, but on the imprints he receives from the receivers of his imprints as a form of compensation for the imprints he makes and preserves on them.  Could be anything from praise to barter to payments.  In this case, the interaction of exchanged imprints is almost totally transactional.  Nothing selfless or transcendent here.  I give you imprint or imprints a and you give me imprint or imprints b in return.  Nothing particularly noble in the processes of imprint making or preserving that initiates the whole interaction.  Nothing particularly generous about it.  Giving is not always particularly generous.

To give generously is to bond in some way with the receiver, almost to selflessly merge with the receiver, as the giver leaves a piece of himself in the process of giving.  The process of generous giving is a flowing blendable continual process.  The giver is somewhat selfless in his focus of how he can help the receiver of his imprints.  In the process, he undifferentiates himself, becomes more basic, less defined and discrete as an entity.  This is much easier to do in a more traditional natural environment, where life entities in general have strong grounding and thus a strong template to do all kinds of bonding and merging with other life entities.  

However, in modern technological society, the living environment is dramatically different.  Grounding is weak in a living environment that is filled with an experiential vacuum.  The template is weak for phenomena in general to bond and merge.  To defend against entropic disintegration, phenomena tend to have stronger more defined discrete less porous boundaries and become less capable of the kind of selfless giving that is a hallmark of generosity.  In other words, the living environment models for the giver an approach for giving wherein all that is being given are the objects and/or services involved in the transaction.  There is little or no add-on of an intangible part of the giver.  There is no foundation in the living environment for a selfless motivation of doing good with one’s giving.  In other words, for being generous.  The motivation is either transactional, in which a person gives a defined discrete entity or service in the expectation of getting something in return.  That which is expected in return can be a concrete payment in some form – either money or barter – or else it can be an intangible influence over a person or something that a person controls.  A man who spends a lot of money on a date in the hopes of receiving sexual favors would certainly not be considered to be selflessly generous in a traditional way.  With a loss of grounding in modern technological living environments, people desperately grab a hold of all the free-floating figures that they can, form bundles with them as a way to generate some kind of gravitational pull to hold them down and hold them together.  Rather than being stimulated to be generous in such a living environment, people are stimulated to be predatory.   

It may be difficult to wrap one’s head around the notion that an intangible human trait like generosity could be influenced in the way it is manifested by something seemingly as neutral as a living environment.  But causality is not always that obvious and, as has been pointed out many times previously in this column, a causal agent does not always have to be a defined discrete focused figure.  In this case, it is an enveloping experiential vacuum that seems harmless in its apparent surface stillness, but that can have many subtle negative effects.  This article just focused on one aspect of human behavior.  Obviously, as other articles have shown, the negative effects of the vacuum are pervasive today in all areas of human life.



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Durante mi estadía en la Ciudad de México en los años setenta, me di cuenta que esta enorme ciudad contenía en sus colonias distintos "medio ambientes vivenciales", que iban desde muy antiguas a muy recientes; desde muy primitivas a muy modernas.

Observé que había diferencias sutiles en la conducta de la gente y en sus interacciones en las diferentes colonias. Esta observación fue fundamental en la fundación de mis teorías con respecto a los efectos de la tecnología moderna sobre los medio ambientes vivenciales y sobre la conducta humana.

En México, publiqué mi libro "Paisaje Sin Terreno" (Editorial Pax-México), y luego di conferencias para la U.N.A.M. y la Universidad Anahuac. También, presenté un ensayo para un Congreso de Psicología.

Ahora que mis hijas son adultas, tengo el tiempo de explorar mis ideas de vuelta. Le agradezco mucho a y en especial al Sr. Daniel Ajzen por la oportunidad de presentar mis ideas.