To give or to give back, that is the question

by Tish Valles

(I realize it's been a while, and I hope you're ready because I am coming back with a whopper of a proposition!)

There's something about the phrase giving back that does not sit well with me. And rather than go the way of the easier harrumph response, I've taken time to sit in a space of discomfort to better understand what it is that bothers me about giving back.

What I've come to is that it isn't the giving part that troubles me, it's that to give back is predicated upon having received, accumulated or amassed from the system or society to which you are returning a favor. Inherently, the notion suggests a sort of classism and privilege in which the giver has been given more, and as such is better than, perhaps more than the receiver who presumably having less than, is also less than.

I know, I know. Sometimes we're up and sometimes we're down. But does this mean when we're down, we aren't in a position to give time, space, thought, affection, generosity? How about advocating simply giving – a genuine generosity and commitment to doing for each other? How about taking the back out of giving back and giving it back to the privilege mongers who started it in the first place?

When one of is not equal, none of us are equal. It's as simple and profound as that. The sooner as we shake off this inequality haze that encourages lame notions of privilege and classism, the sooner we can get on with the business of true rich living, with compassion, creativity, rich spirit and progress. Until then, we remain in versions of a sandbox that limit everyone.