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The Need to Give

There were some civilizations before our own, such as some Native American civilizations, that were founded on the “economy of gift” rather than the economy of the market exchange. For example,

the Indian giver (or the original one, at any rate) understood a cardinal property of the gift: whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again, not kept. Or, if it is kept, something of similar value should move on in its stead, the way a billiard ball may stop when it sends another scurrying across the felt, its momentum transferred. You may keep your Christmas present, but it ceases to be a gift in the true sense unless you have given something else away. As it is passed along, the gift may be given back to the original donor, but this is not essential…. The only essential is this: the gift must always move. There are other forms of property that stand still, that mark a boundary or resist momentum, but the gift keeps going. [Hyde, Lewis. The gift: Imagination and the erotic life of property. New York: Vintage Books, 1979, p. 4, quoted in (Needleman, 1991, pp. 230-231)]

Seasonal thoughts from therapy today …