Not to be confused with philanthropy, capitalism’s managed leftovers. Or with largesse, a little something off the top. Generosity is that palpable extra that comes along with the gift, motiveless as a good wind. Best is the extra that comes unencumbered: pure generosity of spirit, always replenishing itself. We the less generous are quick to suspect it, remembering what we’ve given and why. But those who have it irradiate the day. They redefine the meaning of wealth. We fall in love with them, we try to shine that brightly, yet before long they’ve mostly instructed us about what it is we want to keep. Blessed are the generous who keep enough for themselves so we can live with them without guilt. Blessed, too, are those who receive well, so the generous get their reward. A cold heart is not generosity’s natural enemy. Scarcity is, and its crucible as well. Blessed are the poor who give to the poor. In our world of plenty when our daughter was three, at first we laughed at her mistake: “Share, share and like.” Then we praised it.
- Stephen Dunn