Thursday evening meditation

I can identify with all three of the types of people MA identifies.

I used to have a partner, many years ago now, who used to tell the whole world if I’d done any kind of good deed.  Even if all I’d done was give a £1 coin to a beggar while we were out together, the next time we were in company he’d be saying “Jane gave £1 to a beggar yesterday”.  It used to make me cringe with embarrassment, but he wouldn’t stop doing it. His own family moved in a much more public sphere than my own, and the ways they chose to do good in the world were usually ones which also enhanced their social status.

I wouldn’t say that I came from a family with strong moral values, but one value I did get from my father is that charity is a private matter. It is something between you and your conscience and not something you boast about or announce to the world.  So in that respect I’m like the third person MA describes.

Nor would I ever reproach somebody for ingratitude if I do them a good deed they do not repay.

But, on the other hand, I can’t pretend I’ve never called in a favour, and I don’t think I want to reject the commerce of favours done and returned either.  I don’t hold it against people if they can’t return a good deed, and I wouldn’t say I keep a careful tally either, but I do hope and expect that one of the rewards of being generous with time, money and hospitality is that I’ll be treated the same in return.

The level of unselfish generosity recommended by MA is perhaps a little easier for a Roman Emperor than the rest of us.

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