Monday, May 05, 2008

Do You Give Back, or Give?

Here is a phrase that has made it's way into our popular lexicon to the point that it is repeated everywhere. I'm not sure it makes much sense, or even says what people think it says. I like to listen to Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who addressed this subject in one of his radio shows. We constantly hear of people "giving back" to the community, or giving back to the church, or giving back to society, or the elderly, or whatever. The rabbi made a point that really stuck with me: the phrase giving back implies that you took something. I know the phrase is meant to convey generosity and kindness and philanthropy, but if you really look at it, the phrase says that you are giving something back which you took. For me to be successful, this phrase implies, I have to take. Then, when attempting to share of that success, I am not being generous; I'm merely doing my duty.

That should not be the case at all. I know that our schools and especially our media give a really bad impression of how the economy works. When one of us is successful, we're all successful.

Remember, words mean things. Recently, my wife and I were looking into the possibility of trading in one of the minivans we've ended up with on a Hyundai. The dealer showed us a used Sonata that would just about work, but the mileage was too high for my wife's comfort. The dealer said they would "throw in" a warranty. Then when working up the price list, we saw the warranty in the stack of costs. I explained to the dealer that when he said "throw in", we assumed that meant the cost would not have to be carried by us. If I sell you my computer and "throw in" a copy of Windows Vista, you don't expect me to charge you for Windows Vista because I threw it in. The car salesman is a good guy, and we bought our Kia Sedona from him and will gladly give him the sale of the next car we buy, but I had to point out that he should be careful with words like that.

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