On Giftivism

Givtivism is the word coined by Service Space to describe the practice of radically generous acts that transform the world. It is a philosophy that, when acted upon, shifts our actions from a drive for consumption to discovering the joy of contribution, from individual selfishness to community generosity. As Pavi Mehta says, “What we will do for love will always be far more powerful than what we will do for money.”

I’ve practiced something like this on an individual basis for 45 years. The realization that started my effort was a sudden understanding that a huge amount of our worldly activity is devoted to self-protection. You can fill in all the ways yourself. They range from conspicuous consumption to craft an image designed to hide one’s fears of inadequacy to war at the most pernicious collective level. I wondered, what if each of us tried to look out for one another? What if we didn’t have to look out for ourselves? I figure that the 75% of current human activities are involved in protecting ourselves from our own fears, both real and imagined.

In trying to actually put the idea into practice there were some limitations. One was that at least some of time I felt the need to assure myself of rudimentary physical support. That often necessitated an exchange of labor for money. Even there the philosophy of giving could be applied. I always did the best I could and tried to give a little more effort, do a better job and keep my prices modest. The end result was that almost all my exchanges with people were happily concluded and many turned into friendships.

I learned that the value of money is created in the quality of the effort for which it is exchanged. I can honestly say that I made money more valuable from my use of it. By doing so I understood the difference between inflation and deflation. Deflation comes about by adding more value to exchanges that are reflected in the symbolic exchange of money. Inflation equals greed.

As I look forward at civilization’s evolution it is obvious to me that ownership and profit need to give way to stewardship and giving. Stewardship is merely a reflection of reality. We are temporary citizens of this planet. We must pass it on slightly better than we found it or be indicted by history for our moral failure. Giving is just much simpler than money. You don’t have to keep track. There’s another huge time waster.

In the future there will be no need for money at all. Our scientific knowledge will allow for decentralized and independent systems of energy, manufacturing material needs and food creation. Sound like a dream? We can see intimations of that reality in nano-machines, 3D Printing and other technologies right now. Intellectual advances will diminish the time needed for physical maintenance to only a few hours a day. Spiritual, intellectual and creative pursuits will fill the vacuum created by the reduction of our fear for material security.

I find it amazing that Service Space is living that future in the present.

Welles B Goodrich