Guest Commentary: The gift of givingI am the grandchild of depression-era survivors.
By: Katya Gordon, Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
I am the grandchild of depression-era survivors. Thrift is alive and well inside me. I use up all the lead on the pencil before I sharpen it. I eat the leftovers on the kids’ plates. I neatly pack up all the Christmas wrapping paper around the living room for the next year.
So you can imagine how I suffer when I try to go to a concert in Duluth. I love the music makers and the theater companies, and I firmly believe in the arts and its dependence on average citizens for support. But my survival brain has difficulty forking out greenbacks for something that doesn’t go into our mouths, on our bodies, or into our car.
Last week my daughter and I attended a concert at UMD hosted by Sara Thomsen and the Echoes of Peace Choir, a non-audition choir. They are dedicated to the notion that “the joy of singing is a universal birthright, and that together, regardless of musical background, we can help improve the world by joining voices in song.” Also performing were two groups from the Fond du Lac reservation: a youth chorus and an adult women’s drumming group, both led by singer/songwriter extraordinaire Lyz Jaakola.
Needless to say, the concert was fantastic. It was a “donations-only” benefit concert, so my survival brain was activated to consider the cost of driving to and from Duluth. My “giving brain,” as I’ll call it, woke up to consider how important the fundraising cause was to me. By the intermission, my survival brain went dormant enough to allow the giving brain to focus on what it is good at – giving. I donated what I would have paid for tickets anyway.
Near the end of the concert, Sara mentioned to a boisterous crowd that if we all put in the bucket when we left the same amount as when we walked in, the money raised for the cause would double. As simple as that. As more and more hands reached again into the passing bucket, my giving brain handed the reins to my heart. Like many other concert-goers, I doubled my contribution. As we drove away, I reflected that had I been required to pay what I eventually gave, I probably would have vetoed the concert as too pricey.
It’s not what you give, it’s what you give up, that counts. It’s hard when it’s required. Taxes, fees, tickets – surely necessary to guarantee some basics.
Giving, on the other hand, taps into our hearts, and reminds us of our hopes, our aspirations, our dreams. Like music, it should be our birthright. We need that frequent reminder of the world we want to create and the way we want to live.