Generosity Day – 14 February
Most of us associate the 14th of February each year with St Valentine’s Day (usually shortened to “Valentine’s Day”) – a day originally set aside by Pope Gelasius 1 to commemorate one or more Christian martyrs of that name, but which in the Middle Ages became a time to celebrate romantic love, thanks to Chaucer and his contemporaries. Despite commercialisation, Valentine’s Day is still welcomed in much of the world as a time for lovers to exchange gifts and cards, to express their affection for each other. However, in many Islamic countries, where the idea of romantic love is considered contrary to the teachings of the Koran, Valentine’s Day celebrations have recently been subject to considerable criticism and censure – even legal action.
But all this could be about to change…
There is now a powerful movement under-way to rebrand the day and associate it, instead, with charity, philanthropy and altruism – to rename it Generosity Day.
The idea for Generosity Day came from Sasha Dichter’s Generosity Experiment, which originated back in 2009, after he’d refused to give a donation to help homeless people, but subsequently had second thoughts about his response. Here’s a link to his original blog on the subject: http://sashadichter.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/generosity-experiment.
From this eventually emerged the idea of a specific day each year, when others could briefly experiment with a similar approach to life: Generosity Day… a day to be generous to everyone, rather than just one person that we have special feelings for.
Here’s what the official Generosity Day Facebook page says about the event, in February 2012:
This Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, is going to be rebooted as Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying “Yes.” Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection – because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly. The goal is to spend Valentine’s Day cultivating your practice of generosity, because in today’s fast-paced world, it is too easy to be disconnected and to have “NO” be your reflex. All acts of generosity, small and big alike, count. But you have to say YES to every genuine request for help all day long! It’s about creating more generosity in the world, and becoming a more open person along the way.
Over the coming days I’ll be looking out for news on how people around the world have celebrated Generosity Day in 2012, and reporting back, here. If you are doing something special for the occasion (particularly if it’s unusual and newsworthy), drop me a line using the Contact Form at the bottom of the “Malcolm C Dragon” page, and I’ll be happy to add your news item here.
Meanwhile, check out my blog on the subject.
Generosity Day 2012
Well, I promised to report back on what happened yesterday, so here’s a quick update, so far.
A Google search on the term “generosity day 2012″ today brought up almost 8,000 hits. Top of the list were three items from the Huffington Post, followed by my own blog. Immediately after this was Sasha Dichter’s latest blog.
Writing in the Huffington Post, in an article entitled My Quest To See How Giving People Were On Generosity Day, Eleanor Goldberg had this to say:
‘I turned to a homeless lady in Union Square, a Berkeley educated violinist playing on a subway platform and a group of guys eating dinner at the New York City Rescue Mission in Chinatown. No one knew about Generosity Day, but each was attune(d) to the ways in which people are (and aren’t) willing to extend themselves for others on the holiday of roses and sweets.
‘When I met Gladys Rodriguez, who’s been living in New York for about 25 years, she was sitting on a bench in the Union Square subway station, waiting for someone to help her with her bags. She says that people are most generous around Christmas and New Years, but that she’s always willing to lend a hand. “If I see somebody is down,” Gladys said, “I will help them.”
‘Jasmin Charly, 24, a Berkeley grad who’s been playing the violin for 14 years, performs with her band at bars on the Lower East Side and said that playing on subway platforms is an easy way for her to make some extra cash. Charly said that straphangers are typically pretty generous, but on Valentine’s Day they were a bit “stingy” and she said she felt a “weird energy” from passersby. We agreed that, perhaps, New Yorkers had already emptied their pockets for their partners.
‘I met up with four Starbucks volunteers at the New York City Rescue Mission to serve dinner to the shelter’s clients. Chephany Navarro, 33, (center) said that spending her Valentine’s Day helping others was a no brainer. “I love to cook. I love to feed people,” Navarro said. “It’s the best way to connect on a human-to-human level.” Douglas said that he was anxious about going to the Rescue Mission and had expected it to be a “rough” transition. But, he said he has found inspiration in the people who have been helping him. “Life is a gift,” Douglas told me. “You get out what you put in. You gotta be hopeful.” Antoine T. said that he struggles on Valentine’s Day because he usually thinks of his mom who passed away a few years ago. He used to buy chocolates every year. To stay upbeat, Antoine said he “just prays a lot.” ”It’s not about loving the opposite sex,” a volunteer named Cece told me of her thoughts on Valentine’s Day. “It’s about loving the world.”
Meanwhile Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton spent the day visiting a couple of charities in the Liverpool area… Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and The Brink (a non-alcoholic bar for recovering drug and alcohol addicts).
Other reports coming in include this selection from Sasha Dichter’s blog…
and these from the ‘Causes’ website…
Don’t try to read them here…
visit the relevant sites! (http://sashadichter.wordpress.com/