Both Tom and I talk a lot about the contribution to society. With our friends. In our blog posts. In our Facebook posts. In my Facebook lives. Most of the time this is about volunteering in some way or another. But there are many other ways.
Reciprocity in society is a common gesture. A neighbor smiles at us and next time when they are not at home, we collect their delivered goods from the courier.
Society is built on written and unwritten laws. Some are evident. You do not enter another person’s house without an invitation. Others are less obvious. For example, when you borrow your neighbors’ chainsaw, they might expect you to be extra careful when you use it.
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Reciprocity in society
Nowadays it’s a business model to offer a gift on a website, as we for instance do with our infographic. In exchange, the receivers give their email address.
It’s not a new business model. Small business owners such as bakers or butchers traditionally gave a biscuit or slice of sausage to customers. That way, they maintained customer loyalty, because the next time customers would probably buy from them again and not from the competitor.
If you ask someone over for a coffee and they bring chocolates, you’ll probably also take a small gift with you next time you are invited on a return visit.
In Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion his first principle of persuasion is “reciprocity”. He argues that people are determined to pay back favors and pay back debts. We want to treat others as they have treated us.
People naturally feel obliged to give discounts or concessions to others when they have received favors from those same people. Psychology explains that people hate to feel indebted to others!
Taking care of yourself
If you are on the plane – before take-off – you will receive an announcement from the flight attendant. She urges parents that if the mouth masks fall from the ceiling, they must first put one on themselves before helping their children.
You can contribute by literally taking your own care into your own hands. Because if you take good care of yourself, you can help others.
Taking care of society
You can also take care of others, of nature, of the environment, of the climate. Take care of the sick and the impaired. Take care by growing your own organic food or buying organic or ecological food.
You also contribute when you reduce CO2-levels when you install solar panels on your roof or a windmill in your garden.
A very inspiring way to contribute is socializing. In a sports team, for instance. Or by learning a language together with other people, as Tom and I do.
We don’t need people that do everything perfectly – we need a lot of people that contribute whatever they can.
Less obvious ways of contributing are cultural and artistic activities. But if you write a book, or perform music or a drama that people enjoy, you contribute hugely.
Even when you share your opinions – your voice – with others, you contribute substantially. Vote and support political parties and politicians. That is a sure way to share your voice.
But you can also contribute by sharing your ideas on social media. Even if this does not always come out the way we appreciate it. As can be concluded from the following example.
Don’t turn away
On posts or emails, we often ask to share our ideas with the motto “Sharing is Caring”. An unfortunate incident showed that sharing is not always caring. As we found out in the first days the COVID-virus was around in Spain.
A vicious Whats-app message from one of the villagers was the cause of an uproar, which even made the national press. He sent a spoken message to a friend about one of the Chinese store owners in the village, accusing her of having the Coronavirus.
Within an hour this message was shared in the entire village. Some agreed with the message, others were indignant because the woman had not even been near a Corona outbreak area.
The majority of the responses however was “Don’t interfere. Let it be. We are neither the sender nor the Chinese woman”.
What makes a community?
We are living on the outskirts of the village in an Urbanizacion. To be aware of what happens in our neighborhood we have a group-app. About 125 people are in it. It goes without saying I don’t get along with all of these people. Nor do they with me. 🙂
But it would be so nice if people really cared about and for each other.
So, as a response to the remarks about the Chinese woman, a friend’s message was “Speak up for people who are being attacked”. I think it is a great way of contributing. I gladly repeat her recital of one of Bertold Brecht’s poems:
“First of all, they came to take the gypsies
and I was happy because they pilfered.
Then they came to take the Jews and I said nothing,
because they were unpleasant to me.
Then they came to take homosexuals,
and I was relieved because they were annoying me.
Then they came to take the Communists,
and I said nothing because I was not a Communist.
One day they came to take me,
and there was nobody left to protest”.
Big changes start with little actions
It’s amazing how some people can give lots of money to charities and at the same time be an absolute jerk to their staff or to the people that are serving them in a shop or restaurant.
Being courteous or simply nice to other people is a better way to contribute to the world than donating. Although this is not a plea to not donate, because that is necessary as well of course.
Contribution and reciprocity in society
Society is in part about contribution and reciprocity. With – as said – written and unwritten laws. And that’s a good thing. Usually, people are fine.
As Rutger Bregman says in his book Humankind: A Hopeful History: “Our innate goodness and cooperation have been the greatest factors in humanity’s success.”
Every now and then there is a slip, as that mistake in our village. But those are exceptions.
Do you have an example of contribution or reciprocity you loved? Tell us in the comment box below.
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Let’s contribute to a better world. ❤️