Being Generative, Being Generous

Genus: from the Latin----"origin; beginning."

Genus is the Latin root word of all English words associated with the origin, beginning and source of things. Examining and connecting to the linguistic origins of things, the "source" of things, is called etymology. Being clear about the origins of things, including with the language worlds we all live inside of, is a direct access to our creative power.

Genus is the origin of terms that reflect what is original, or sourceful, or at the beginning.

Words Like:

  • Genesis
  • Gene
  • Genetic
  • Generative
  • Generous

Ever notice that "generative" and "generous" come from the same root word?

Genus. Origin, beginning, or source.

Think: A human being can be many things; there are many ways of being human. Let's look at a particular state of being called, "being generative," a way of being that is characterized....by taking initiative, causing things to happen, creating, imagining what doesn't yet exist, standing for something, inventing things, discovering things that hadn't been seen, or said. In causing, creating, initiating, discovering new things, relationships, ideas, we thereby become directly related to life bigger than our immediate circumstances, or history, or race, or gender, or style, or what we already know.

Let's ask a question. What if all human beings were naturally generative and thereby allowed themselves to be creative, or original, or authentic, or difference-making ----might they then naturally also become generous? In other words, is being generative a powerful access to, a cousin to, connected to, being generous?

Scenario I: Let's take a test case and look at generosity when you are not being generous:

Imagine you're entering a village, a town, or a campsite and needing water. You are thirsty, parched, dry; you approach me. I have 1 sole bottle of water. You want some, but I say, without thinking, "Not so fast, buster, this is mine and I want it and there ain't enough of it for the 2 of us."

See, all I have is this one lousy bottle of water. It occurs to me as limited and scarce; it must therefore be guarded, defended and held back. When something occurs as scarce, it must be defended, or guarded, or held back.

What if something doesn't have to automatically occur as scarce? What if how it occurs to me, what is possible, has something to do with how I construe it, construct it, or see it as a matter of the very language that I use?

Consider: If I can't generate water itself, I can't access water beyond that one bottle----then my ability to be generous with it is very, very pinched. Constrained. Suppressed.

When something occurs like this, it is inside a model of reality called, "scarcity." The name of this model is called zero-sum.

Zero-sum means that if someone wins, someone else must necessarily lose, thereby the sum is zero. There's no actual net gain, growth, or expansion of anything in that model of reality, that view of the world, that mindset, called zero-sum. That pie is inherently fixed and it's always a fight for who gets what. Inside that model, zero-sum, it's difficult to imagine what one might create that doesn't exist already, that's beyond that 1 bottle of water, beyond the scarcity. One is fighting so hard to get hold of, and to hold onto, that scarce piece of what already does exist, that one does not stop to think, reflect on and create anything new.

Consider: If human beings truly are not capable of generating new possibilities, new initiatives, new actions, new thoughts, new imaginings, new expressions, as if people really are incapable of creating anything newly....and if all I can do is hold on to, guard and defend what I have, then I'm stuck, then we human beings are stuck. If I can't be creative....generative....in action....taking initiative....I may have no real shot ever at being generous because I'm not generative.

Consider the zero-sum, scarcity mindset is transparent to us human beings, and therefore invisible to most of us most of the time. "Zero-sum" is the condition in which we operate, the default condition of survival itself that we've inherited from our past. All of us. Inside that condition, that mindset, that view of reality, it's almost impossible to be truly powerful, or creative, or make a difference. Rather than see the zero-sum view directly as what it is....a mindset....we see it indirectly, reflected as, and in, our circumstances. When I say and see life as scarce and I don't see any access to sufficiency, let alone abundance....it's then that the circumstances, not me, are calling the shots.

We then become "certain" of this scarcity, which certainty then invites and insists on more of it.
This article suggests: maybe not....maybe we have something (or everything) to say regarding our circumstances----and that "saying" starts first with examining our mindsets.

Scenario II: Consider you come into the village, or campsite, or town and you're thirsty/parched/dry....but this time I have access to the well, the source of water, not just a bottle of water itself. This time when you say, "Can I have some water?" I say, "Of course and as much as you need."

In this model of sufficiency (or even abundance) your winning (having water) doesn't require my losing. We both can win.

When we both have access to the source of the water, we both can be generous.

The common thinking is that for people who don't have much, i.e., (scarcity), their circumstances must change (to sufficiency or even abundance) before they can alter their mindset. I'm contesting that. I'm not saying circumstances can't be painful, or tragic, or constraining, or unfair, or suppressive as all hell. They can be and not infrequently are. I am saying that your mindset gives your relationship to that circumstance and thereby has everything to do with what you say, see, think, and do, i.e., your mindset determines your openness to, sufficiency or abundance and thereby, the actions you can take or can even imagine regarding getting past your circumstances.

A clear example of this (and there are millions) is Nelson Mandela in prison. Prison wasn't just prison for Nelson Mandela. It was his graduate school; going from an angry, defiant, committed young man----to an un-angry, un-defiant, committed and wise leader.

He intentionally altered his mindset.

Consider that scarcity/zero-sum isn't simply a matter of circumstance. It's a matter of what you say, stand for and quite literally see as the world. Conversely, there are many, many, many people who have enormous money, or power, or stature who still think from, and are completely gripped by, a zero-sum scarcity mindset. These people rarely get present to or fully appreciate their accomplishments, or their abundance, or their sufficiency, or their good fortune, or the blessings of their lives, or their own (potential) generosity and what they have to offer others. They're too busy fighting off this and that wolf at the door, threats to what they have, or want, even if they have millions of $$, awards, books, fame, etc.

A mindset affects people of all sorts regardless of circumstance and must be seen for what it is in order to get past it: a mindset is simply an "internal conversation."