I’ve pondered for a while the psychological paradox that democrats give less to charity than republicans, that those who eat environmentally friendly food are similarly ungenerous, on average.
I’ve not written about this issue before, because it’s so easy to be judgmental about it … Those goody two shoes people aren’t so good after all…
However the basic issue here is something else: it seems each of us has a baseline: this is how much we will give. Some give more, some less, but changing a habit in this regard will only detract from giving in some other way.
One of my friends is very environmentally conscious, despite being a poor college student. I felt very uncomfortable telling him I had just bought the iPad on which I’m typing this. I felt I had good reason, but nothing undid the fact that I’d just bought another electric appliance that uses rare natural resources.
I’m not suggesting that he should not have judged me, or that I should have refrained from buying this thing. It’s about the process of judging itself…
It’s the judging and labeling that turns a simple purchase into an ethical dilemma, which of course it is. However, it’s also judging that limits our generosity because we’ve done good in other area’s of our lives.
So how do we get out of this paradox?
The answer may be loving kindness meditation practice: it may be able to help us stop the labeling, of ourselves and others. And if the labels are gone, or less strong, we may be able to give ‘more’, or if we don’t, at least stop beating ourselves and others up about it.
[all this as a response to ‘Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment’ a book I’m reviewing]