Generosity Day

Generosity Day 2012

Very shortly (in a matter of minutes, here in the UK) it will be February 14th – a day traditionally used to demonstrate and express our romantic love for another human being… Valentine’s Day. Originally set aside for remembering Christian martyrs, this day is now celebrated widely across the world (though regarded rather less positively by most Muslim communities) – and, like many public holidays, has become very commercialised. Few people would fail to recognise the significance of this day for lovers.

What less people know is that for a couple of years a re-branding exercise has been gathering momentum, and this year it is about to hit the headlines: 14 February 2012 is now officially Generosity Day.

Many of us have approached 2012 with mixed feelings: there’s much talk about the possible increase of natural disasters, and even the suggestion that we might be approaching the Apocalypse. Alongside such fears, however, there has been a sense that the world is becoming more spiritually aware, and that many of the negative aspects of previous ages will fade and give way to a greater concern for our fellow humans (and, indeed, for our Planet Earth). Perhaps the correct interpretation of the Mayan Prophecy is that we are approaching not The End, but a new Beginning… a RENAISSANCE! Predictions about what will start happening as this year progresses have included suggestions that the World Economy might collapse and be replaced by something new – and much of the work in which Muhammad Yunus is currently engaged seems to support this idea, as does the present uncertainty surrounding the economy of the supposedly advanced nations. But whatever the outcome of these weighty matters, there’s little doubt that generosity and altruism continue to flourish, and appear to be getting ever more publicity. So it’s a pleasure to announce the arrival of Generosity Day at this crucial time.

For more information on the Day itself, see our Generosity Day page. In particular, we will be endeavouring to report there on what activities are taking (or have taken) place in celebration of this year’s event. But I just wanted to very briefly consider here two points:

  1. Participating in it could have a far greater effect on us than we might imagine – and this picks up on Sasha Dichter’s underlying philosophy for the Generosity Experiment (described on our Generosity Day page). Cialdini’s studies have shown that the ‘Consistency’ principle can powerfully influence our future behaviour to conform to earlier words or actions. So practising generosity even for just one day could enhance our generous self-image and tendencies in the future (which seems to be borne out by Dichter’s graphs). This surely has to be a good thing?
  2. If enough people participate we could reach a ‘tipping point‘ – studies have shown that even a relatively small proportion of a population, focused on a specific goal, can have a profound influence on the whole. Perhaps this year’s Generosity Day will become the watershed for a new preoccupation with the welfare of our fellow human beings?

As Dichter says, we do not know whether this year’s event will be a dramatic turning point for humanity, or whether generosity will simply be given a boost, and continue to prosper more and more over the coming months. But I think it’s true to say that February the 14th will never be quite the same again!

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