We live in a digital age, where sharing is the norm. Or is it? We share photos and comments and videos on Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. We share with friends and their friends and even with “the public” a.k.a. strangers. We post our opinions on world issues and we share what’s on our mind. But this kind of sharing doesn’t take much commitment, does it? It doesn’t require more than a few moments, and in general it is a fun thing.
I was returning from an errand this afternoon and encountered a young mom coming out of a cookie store with her daughter, who appeared to be about four years old. They were clearly in the middle of an important conversation about the nature of sharing, and it was also clear the topic revolved around cookies. The mom said, no doubt wanting to give a parental lesson that would stand her child in good stead as a polite child and generous person, “Well, I don’t mind sharing. I don’t mind it at all.”
They were walking in the direction I’d just come from, so I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation, but I could read that child’s mind and here’s what she was thinking (because I know we all secretly think this many times but particularly when we’re young and it comes to sharing a cookie): It’s easy for you to say you don’t mind sharing, Mommy! You can buy more cookies. You can get more any time you want. But I can’t. I don’t have the money. I can’t go to the store by myself. The only time I get to go to the cookie store is if you take me, and I can only get what you allow me to pick out. And then you expect me to share it?!
Okay, so maybe she wasn’t thinking all of that. But seriously, how often are we really “sharing” from a willing heart, and giving something away that we want for ourselves? Or something that would be hard to replace and we might even miss? What are we attached to that we try to hold onto for ourselves, and stress out over the idea of losing it?
When we share in social media, we don’t give up our photos or our quotes or our videos. We get to keep them, and share them at the same time.
When we share our clothes by donating them to charity, we give away the stuff that got scuffed, torn, dingy, or that we outgrew, or never liked to begin with.
Are you familiar with the cartoon strip called “The Family Circus” created by cartoonist Bil Keane (in 1960) that is still syndicated and now created by his son Jeff? I’ll never forget a particular “episode” in the cartoon family’s life. I guess it stuck with me because at the time my daughter was in middle school and it seemed we were always being called on to donate for a food drive or newspaper drive or cans drive to help the school raise money for supplies or special activities. In this cartoon, the mom was gathering cans from the cupboard to donate for the food drive and commented to little Billy that it was food they didn’t like anyway–to which he replied that the poor people were helping them by taking the food away! Hmmm, that was an interesting concept and as I say, it was a cartoon that packed a memorable punch I still recall years after first seeing it.
Sometimes we are admonished by charitable groups to “give until it hurts” and that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t think we need to be in pain in order to be more generous in our sharing. But where can we share by giving more of ourselves? Let go of the attachment to possessions. Freely give away smiles. Kindness. Loving thoughts toward that driver who just cut you off. There are dozens if not hundreds of ways we can easily share more from our hearts and help this world of ours be more peaceful and compassionate.