I recently had the good fortune of being invited by Rhoda Kadalie to attend the annual Impumelelo awards on Sunday 1 Dec 2013. Impumelelo identifies, researches and rewards social entrepreneurship entities. And they do a brilliant job!

The highlight of the evening for me was the talk that Prof Jonathan Jansen, the rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State gave! To say that I was impressed would be an understatement!

The essence of his talk was about giving. And he said that we give for 3 reasons:

  • We give because others take. We unfortunately have corruption from the highest levels in this country to the lowest!
  • We give because others give.
  • We give, because through giving, we will never be dependent on others or have a shortage.

I would like to elaborate on these 3 points.

We at times give because it is needed to give and others need to take. My wife has at times told me people exploit my inability/unwillingness to say no. I do not have a problem with that kind of giving. I believe that by giving, it will come back to you. “Track record counts”, as I always tell my kids.

However, we cannot tolerate an environment where people take what is given for selfish, even criminal, reasons! I am specifically referring to the situation where we have a president that is taking as much as he can from a society that really needs to direct those funds to places where it is urgently needed.

So we have a need to sensitise people to give, but also for people to take with the right attitude. Do not take when it is not needed! Remember that resources, irrespective of the nature thereof, are finite! Whatever I consume is not available for other, often more deserving, people!

We give because others give! We are led by the example of others. There is nothing wrong with this reason for giving. It would be great, however, if we are all example setters, instead of example followers!

The third reason for giving is for me the higher order rationale for giving. I give because I create a situation where the universe becomes self-sufficient. Everyone gives when it is needed. As I give, I receive. When I am able, I give. When I am in trouble, I receive. As the universe works with this, and everyone gives as and when needed, everyone will be free of dependency and shortages!

The next issue for me is what we give.

The easy thing to give is resources. Money talks. It is easy to give.  It requires nothing from us, but the willingness to give. Given in the right circumstances and with the right attitude, there is nothing wrong with giving money. Just beware of not salving your conscience by giving money instead of attention.

That brings me to the second kind of gift.  This is about giving time and attention. Spending time with your loved ones, with your people at the office, with people in need of your time and attention. This is frequently more difficult to give than money. The more senior you become, the less time you have. The less time you have, the less you have to give away!

The third gift has to do with giving of yourself. This is where you place yourself on the line. This is where you give empathy and sympathy. Where you give energy and passion. This is where you become engaged and committed to the cause you are dealing with. Without this kind of gift, the whole process of giving can become a bit superficial.

In the latter grouping I can identify the normal suspects, i.e. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther-King, Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa, etc. But I have no doubt in my mind that there are many people that are unknown that fall into this category. This is what the Impumelelo awards evening was about – rewarding those that gave unselfishly of themselves, to those who could not help themselves!

In a perfect world, the recipients or beneficiaries of the efforts of the award winners will reciprocate by giving also. It’s something like paying it forward! To do anything else would be criminal!

Jonathan Jansen ended his talk by playing a beautiful piece on the piano – a song of the early 1950’s. In a similar vein, the words of the song by Supertramp came up in my mind. It is a good point to stop at.

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
Send a smile and show that you care

I’ll give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your time to me
See the man with the lonely eyes
Take his hand, you’ll be so surprised

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
Now’s the time that we need to share
So find yourself, we’re on our way back home

Going home
Don’t you need to feel at home
Oh yeah, we gotta sing


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