Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Giving and Receiving


There is an old German proverb:  “Das eine musst du stets bedenken es kann dir niemand etwas schenken”  (you must remember that no one can give you anything gratis).  There are the takers and the givers.  Let us concentrate on the folk that we are likely to meet in our daily lives. 

The takers are those who expect the world to satisfy their needs.  They are infants grown up.  They care not about the giver, only themselves.  Their background is varied.  Perhaps they observed their parents living as takers, or they may be individuals who have been adulated and spoiled from infancy and much more.  They may be people who hold everyone in their world responsible for their real or imaginary misfortune.  They may blame their race or their ethnic background for their attitude, and much more.  They are the people who love receiving unemployment compensation or other doles.  They do not wish to exert themselves  Everything is too difficult for them.  They envy those who have the means to buy what they need through hard work or intelligent handling of their budgets.  They want what others have and more without any effort on their part.  They will cite past circumstances on their real or imaginary deprivations.  Reality does not affect them.  They do not care if the immigrant who came with nothing but a small satchel on his back has achieved and is happily self supporting and even in the proverbial “good place”.  They are the narcissistic person who cares only about himself and what should be given him.  In the taker category are those who dwell on their entitlements and what should be rightfully theirs.  They are able to squeeze what they want in one fashion or another.  They can be the person who pities himself so much that he drinks to “not feel” any  adversity.  He can also under very special circumstances be found in jail for having satisfied his need for goods that belong to others.

The takers do not care or consider where or how the owner of the desired material goods made them happen, or how hard he worked for them. 

The givers, like the takers, come in a number of categories with regard to why and how they share their “good fortune.”  They are contented with their possessions and what to share with those who do not have material goods.  The very act of seeing someone smile and appreciate the gift makes the giver feel good and worthwhile. 

There are those givers who enjoy the notoriety they receive from giving.  If their donation is publicized or in the public eye, they have the attention of those they want to impress. It is sometimes a donation which is placed upon the “grosse Glocke” (the large bell) which rings and impresses their world.  It makes them appear generous.

There are those who follow the tenets of the Jewish law, to tithe and give a certain proportion of one's income to the poor.  In addition, there is the believe that the giver will be rewarded for his good deed, if not in this world, but in “jener” world, the world to come.

Some givers feel so happy that they want to share their material goods/ wealth with others who are less fortunate than they.

The act of giving and that of taking have many meanings.  There are those that we can see and surmise, as well as the hidden ones.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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