Theme for October – the Virtue of Giving

Okay, so I realize that I promised to get this up yesterday, and that totally did not happen. But at least we have a whole month to write these poems! Oh right, unless you read my post on Tuesday, you probably don’t know that Schizophrenic Summers is changing to a month-long submission period.

Our last round of poems featured chastity as the theme, and produced one poem about holding women to certain standards (ideals?) and one about holding love to no standards at all.

Theme: Charity

Structure: Free verse

Interestingly, as one of the three Christian theological virtues, charity is the act of showing more love for others (and God, in the religious sense) than to oneself. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively on the act of charity as the most critical of the theological virtues, and it is a common theme in many other religions.

In Buddhism, almsgiving (dāna), whether in money or food, is representative more of humility towards the spiritually enlightened than as an act of generosity. However, the giver of alms ultimately becomes wealthier for having the strength to let go of “acquisitive impulses that ultimately lead to further suffering.”

Bhiksha is the Hindu practice of giving alms, especially food, to a swami or Brahmin, who then provides the giver with a spiritual service teaching.

Almsgiving, or Zakat, is also recognized as one of the five pillars of Islam, which instructs those Muslims who are financially able to set aside a specific portion (2.5% of business revenue and/or 5-10% of the harvest) of their wealth for the poor and the needy: “Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need. This cutting back, like the pruning of plants, balances and encourages new growth.”

In Judaism the practice of giving is known as tzedakah, which actually means righteousness in Hebrew. It is an obligation on all to do that which is right. Similar to Islam, Judaism actually mandates a specific amount (10%) of one’s wealth that should be set aside as charity for the poor.

What does charity mean to you? Feel free to use a completely non-religious interpretation. Send your submissions to redstringpapercuts@gmail.com by the end of the month to share in the poetic wealth!

Steve D

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