The Ethics of Sharing

This is an entry in the 2014 Aug./Sept. writing contest with a combined prize value of over $1066.   Be sure to rate this article – your vote is important! 

Life’s defining moments are usually short.

Mine have been anyway.  I was about 12, dropped off by my parents to visit my Grandmother Lillian.

There was a knock at the door and a group of three locals stood on her doorstep.

They explained that there was going to be an area Anniversary dinner.

All the original residents of note were to be honored for their contributions.

My Great Grandparents homesteaded in a remote area of the Canadian West Coast.

My Grandmother was a schoolteacher that married into the family.  She had a huge Garden, Fruit trees, large berry patch, kept Bees and had 6 kids in 8 years.

My Grandfather had the contract to plow the roads and ran the local dairy,

His mother owned the local Grocery Store, Post Office and Café and knew everyone.

In the 1930’s she would mumble in my Grandmother’s ear about who needed help.  The next morning there would be a care package anonymously left on the doorstep.  Delivered by grandfather while he was out inspecting the roads and delivering milk.  Sometimes it was produce, dairy, fruit, clothing, sometimes an envelope of cash.

In the days before Welfare and Food Banks, there was no government support.

So back at the door, my grandmother looked the delegation over for a moment.
One twittered… “Everyone we spoke to told us about how their family could not possibly have made it without your help.”

She got furiously angry… and I had never before seen that aspect of her personality.

She said, “I never once took food from my own plate or shoes from my own feet to give away to others.

I gave of my EXCESS… and God help me if I hadn’t.”

And she slammed the door shut in their shocked faces.

Muttered… “That crew wouldn’t give a starving man a Chicklet if they had a full box.”

She turned to me and said, “ Now… How about some Tea?”

The meaning of Matthew 25:29 was really shown to me that day.

New Living Translation

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

I have found many times in my life… and as my Grandparents had also experienced.  If you give freely of your excess, much more will be given to you.   The more I give, the more is given to me as a conduit to disperse.

It is truly a place of honor and obligation to be gifted with the ability to produce excess.

Last year my husband and I gave away 123 dozen jars of food. Plus fresh and frozen.

It was the first year I had actually counted. Sheepish grin…. I had no idea.

It is quite magical the way the produce comes, Cash gifts for sugar, honey, certo, lids.

Then someone gifts me jars or I find them at a garage sale or second hand store.

It flows seamlessly. I seem to have a jar of whatever people like with me when they need it.

I don’t concern myself about their need or deservedness. It is all excess…

And as such, the obligation is on me to give. Without account or obligation.

Undeserved kindness and limitless love for all. That is our biblical modeling.

I don’t worry about getting jars back. It is local emergency storage capacity.

When we first started doing this hardcore a half dozen years ago,  People that had a half case of soup in the pantry considered themselves stocked up.

Now… If they have full jars in the pantry, half full in the fridge or empty in a box.

They now have the CAPACITY to store food. I want that around me.

I have several cases of lids I picked up at a Dollar store.

Just in case of war.  What are always the first items in demand? Metal and rubber.

Resiliency lies in the capacity to sustain and store reserve production.

Have a case of jerky plus the butchering skills, spices, drying rack and filet knives.

We are also members of a Community Garden and always have excess produce.

For the first few years, I would pick that excess and take it to people.

I put in a public garden area, realized the impact when people picked their own.

It took several years of teaching for people to pick the leaves and leave the plant.
Chard, lettuce, beets, kale, chives, onions, cabbage, broccoli, herbs and teas.

Pick the leaves. And then teach them how to cook fresh produce or store it.

I asked the people what to plant. THEY then developed ownership with the patch.

It was a small step to handing out plants in big pots for them to take home.

A small sign… “Homeless plant, take one please.” Works wonderfully.

Trust that every seed will germinate, pots and dirt will arrive as needed.

I have 3 underbed plastic bins so I can start an inside garden if required.

I use them to start my plants in the spring. Direct seeding or in pots.

Then cut up Aluminum blinds into 5” stakes to use as markers to identify the plants.

Last winter we found a fellow with extra Lumber and a senior that needed a project.

He built 87 Garden Boxes. Mostly 4 ft square. Of 2”x 8” lumber. By donation….

We got the starter funds back and are looking to do the same again this year.

A 4’ x 4’ box will not keep them? But it builds capacity and skill in the community.

It starts the personal accountability dialogue in a safe, non threatening, fun way

Part of delivering the boxes is I brought along my seed box for them to look through.

Dollar stores have small ziplock bags and I either save my own seed, am gifted them,
Attend Seed Swaps or buy them at the end of the year at a discount in nurseries.

Put 10-20 seeds in each mini ziplock, label and put with original pkg in sandwich ziplock.

Over 50 people went through the box this year, the collection keeps getting bigger.

Loaves and Fishes is not just a story. It really works in everyday life.

The trick is to not keep track. Do as much as you can daily and enjoy the blessings.

The glorious bounty that we are all fortunate enough to receive on this planet.

We are not gifted it so we can hoard it away from others. … Share nice.

God help you if you don’t.

Note to editors:
It is not enough to address the mechanics of personal survival without also teaching ethics and morality of sharing and community.

Marjory writes in response:  Thank you Nola M for this very important otpic!  You are absolutely correct. 

This is an entry in the Aug./Sept. 2014 [Grow] writing contest with over $1,066 in combined prizes.  Please be sure to rate this article your vote counts!      

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3 Comments
  • Eileen Grant

    Your quote sounds like fear mongering to me. Stick to positives: To those that share much will be given. Period. No need to put a curse on those who don’t share.

  • Karen

    Real charity comes from the heart, from God. It’s willful, not forced upon as vanity. So what you write about is about a true act. 5 stars all the way.

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