When did you first hear of Black Friday? A ploy dreamed up by retail executives in the US to sell more goods, has rapidly spread over here. What about Giving Tuesday? Where did that come from? Again, it was a movement started in America, this time to encourage philanthropy. It too has spread across the world.
At least the Giving Tuesday movement is run and promoted by a social enterprise company. I say ‘at least’ because I do feel pressured by constant email reminders from charities to ‘give today’, as if this is the only day in the year for giving.
But is this what giving is about? I admit that I, like other human beings can be self-centred and do need a reminder sometimes of others’ needs. To be reminded too that charitable organisations, including our own church, need resources to carry out their work.
This season of Christmas is certainly a time when we focus on giving and receiving. As we write our Christmas cards and wrap presents, we are giving and we are connecting – and in some cases reconnecting – with family and friends. Through charitable giving we can show our connectedness and our empathy and compassion for others beyond our immediate circle.
St Paul famously said that it is more blessed to give than receive. Indeed, some of us find it hard to receive. However, I think they are two sides of the same golden coin. I think that we need to be open to both. The title to this piece, taken from a poem by Alberto Rios, the inaugural state poet of Arizona, sums that up perfectly for me.