“For it is in giving that we receive.” — St. Francis of Assisi
Giving is an essential part of life. But in order to truly give, we must do so without expectation of reward. In Buddhism, this is called perfection of giving, which is the first on a list of paramitas (perfections) which must be cultivated according to Buddhist beliefs. We must give, therefore, without reciprocity or exchange.
While I agree that we should give without expecting anything in return, I will argue here that we are always getting something in return whether we realize it or not. It’s actually part of Universal Law: we receive what we give. It’s an exchange of energy.
If we give with an open, pure heart, that love will be returned to us. If we give for the wrong reason and only as a means of nurturing our own ego or getting something in return, we will receive nothing but ill regards and greed. But when we give for the right reason, it will come back full circle.
At the same time, society unfortunately spends too much time classifying and separating the givers and the receivers. But the truth is there would be no giving if there was no receiving. Many people feel uncomfortable taking things from others for two reasons. One they feel that they will then be expected to do something in return. And, two, they feel guilty thinking that they should be giving and not receiving.
On Sunday, I attended an affair in honor of my cousin, Vito Tropeano, a Detective with the City of Elizabeth in New Jersey. I am proud to say that Vito was named “Man of the Year” by the Elizabeth Chapter of UNICO. The objectives of this charitable organization are to promote Italian heritage and culture while also being of service to the community by supporting benevolent causes. Founded in 1922, UNICO donates approximately $1 million to various charities each year.
Vito was chosen because of his extensive charitable work in the community. But before I get into that, I want to share a personal story. Back in 2000, I was diagnosed with melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer. My daughter was just three months old at the time and I was completely devastated. No one likes to get a cancer diagnosis but there were many positives that came out of my experience. For one thing, I realized how truly blessed I am to have such a loving and supportive family. I am not just talking about my immediate family; I am also talking about my extended family…my cousin Vito.
My Uncle Angelo, Vito’s father, had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. Vito and his brothers and sisters did everything they could to make sure their father received the best medical care.
One day while I was trying to determine the best course of action for my own diagnosis and treatment, I opened my door to find Vito standing there. Admittedly, I was shocked when he told me he had heard the news and wanted to take me to see the doctor who was treating his father. I was overwhelmed and rendered speechless by his act of kindness. “Don’t worry,” he told me, “I will take you to New York City.”
As it turned out, I received good news after attending the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The cancer had not spread into my lymph nodes and it was not necessary for me to go to New York for treatment. I have not shared this story with many people but I share it now to give you a little glimpse of the kind of person my cousin is. Giving is just his nature. He never gives it a second thought. He never asks for anything in return. There are no strings attached.
In fact, he became a police officer because he wanted to be of service to others. He has served the community as a law enforcement officer but he goes far beyond his call of duty. Why? Because Vito understands the importance of giving and understands that it is in giving that we truly receive.
As Business Philosopher Jim Rohn wrote, “Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.” Vito is living proof. This is not the only time he has been recognized for his acts of goodwill and kindness. The place was packed with people who had nothing but good things to say about him.
Everyone stood up in applause as my cousin completed his speech by saying, “As long as I am able, I will continue doing things for people.” It was a special night for my entire family. Vito will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of all who know him.
So while I do agree that giving is better than receiving, I also know you can’t have one without the other. Can you inhale without exhaling? Can you have day without night? No, you can’t. The two go hand in hand. We all need to remember that we are One.
Giving is an exchange of energy. We will always receive what we give. When we help others, we help ourselves. When we give love, we receive love. It is a Universal Law.
This blog is dedicated to my wonderful cousin, Vito Tropeano.