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The Master Gift-Giver

The Internet is an amazing thing. It feels like all human knowledge can flow through your modem. Of course, there might also be a strong resemblance to your attic — you know it’s in there, but just try to find it. And like your attic, the Internet can steal hours of your time as you examine hidden treasures, completely forgetting what has brought you there in the first place. A delightful trend I’ve found on the Internet is the online publishing of books. The material is usually not copyrighted, and is often free or available for a small fee. Of course, much of it is simply garbage — much of what makes it into print is garbage, too. But there’s some surprising stuff out there. And although I love the flash and animation of the Internet, I’m still enough of a reader to download and enjoy the occasional text-only piece. That said, let me tell you about a mysterious web site I found. It offers a radical little book called The Little Green Book, purportedly written by the Coalition of Wildcat Ministers and Pragmatic Anarchists. The book is made up of 110 short essays — 100 things to do and ten things to stop doing to change the culture. I found one of the essays to be particularly thought-provoking for the holiday season. Here it is: 020 Become a Master Gift-Giver Tradition has it that there are three levels of philanthropy. At the first level, the gift-giver gives a present of his own choosing to a designated, chosen receiver, for a specific purpose, and it is a public act. At the second level, the gift-giver gives a gift of his own choosing to a specific individual or group, and remains anonymous. At the third level–the level of the master–the gift-giver begins by perceiving the needs of the potential receiver. Then the master gift-giver makes sure those needs are met, doing it in such a way that no one, not even the receiver, realizes that a gift has been given. There are ways you can practice this discipline. There is always need–all you have to do is look around as you walk down the street and you will see it. There is no way anyone can meet all needs, not even all the needs of any single person. But there are small acts of mercy that can be arranged. Dropping your gloves in the path of someone whose hands are cold. Losing money–by accident or on purpose–will, you may be sure, benefit someone. Probably someone who needs it. In fact, a creative method of giving money away can be to tap someone on the shoulder and saying, “Excuse me, I think you dropped this.” This is an area for almost unlimited creativity. Master gift-giving guidelines to remember are these: 1. The gift has to meet a need perceived by the receiver, not necessarily by the giver. 2. The giver has no control over what is done with the gift. 3. In the best scenario, no one, not even the receiver, should realize that a gift has been given. Pretty radical concept. But it would sure make the world a more interesting, surprising place. If you’re interested in getting your very own downloaded copy of The Little Green Book, you can check out the web site at www.thelittlegreenbook.com. Give it to someone as a gift — I’ll bet you know someone who needs it. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 11 – December 2002
by Janice Christensen