The Haptic Monk Says “Give”

"I'm going to need bigger pockets."
“I’m going to need bigger pockets.”
In a taxi, wending home, full of grumble, gripe and a general demeanour more akin to Victor Meldrew than my usual Father Furlong (ask anyone who knows me better than they would like), I tapped listlessly at my phone’s screen as silent as a haptic monk.

Having left the taxi, I turned the key to the outer door of our apartment, and walked (with no little weariness) to the vestibule, unlocking another door, then schlepping up the stairs, only to unlock another door: finally home.

I’d spent the day (between lessons) trawling for curriculum and assessment resources for our departmental website. And I’d spent the previous night reading about ‘micro-finance’, ‘philanthro-capitalism’ and ‘Philanthropy 3.0’, as part of my nocturnal studies.

My brain felt bruised like a burnt meringue. My skin was tingling with cortisol. The only parts of my body that did not ache were those that had no nerve-endings. Each lesson may as well have been taught from an iron lung; I felt so drained, depleted and dry.

It is Week 9, Day 3, and I have only two more getty-uppies until we break for the end of the semester for three well-earned weeks.

It has been a fractious week academically as well as professionally. I started my MA ten days ago and have been inundated with login details: passwords and usernames rattling around my head like an incoherent screensaver. I have URLs coming out of my backside (put that in your next edu-tech Prezi).

I am also unearthing all manner of hidden costs and quibbles with distance learning; the nature (and number) of the virtual-learning beast. I find that I have to shuttle back and forth arranging (and funding) my own exams. It feels very much like I have been asked to pay for the privilege of arranging my own execution.

But I arrived home this afternoon to cheerful children, an equally-frazzled but dazzling Mrs Whatonomy, and a large pile of academic books on pedagogy and research. A friend is leaving at the end of term and came into Mrs What’s staffroom this morning with this big bag of books: “I think you guys’ll get good use out of these,” he said, passing them to my wife.

I smile. I have been given a whole bunch of books.

I remember. I have been given a whole bunch of resources via

Thank you is all.

You have (both of you: Mr Tidd and Mr L.) made my day. Actions like this, ongoing, selfless and co-operative are exemplars of our freedom to give.

I’m going into school with a little more energy and purpose tomorrow: I’m bursting forth from my iron lung! There’ll be 5 or 6 smiles where there might have been 2 or 3. And all because two people have given me words (in one form or another).

All of this from nothing: words, paper and typing on a keyboard.

It set me again thinking about the weighted giving of microfinance, investment and pseudo-philanthropy. Simply giving doesn’t work, or so we are told.

That’s as may be. It may not return what was anticipated by the giver, but I would argue that that is largely the problem of a kind of charity borne of expectation. Not really charity at all.

Giving is not synonymous with being duped; nor does it equate to gullibility. It is a knowing act of kindness and it renders delible all manner of ill. It is as haptic as the screen on your phone: it touches and changes the course of things in ways that may not be immediately apparent. But because giving is good, the course of things will be good too.

So leave your doors open and let your pockets be picked.



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