We are exploring the meaning of the word generosity. The word comes from two Latin words: generos, which means to beget, produce, create, cause to exist, bring to life or generate. Thus, to be creative.
“Generosity” also derives from the word genus, which means birth, descent, origin (especially of high birth), father, family, nation, stock, offspring, race, kind, class, sort. The words ‘generate’ or ‘generative’ also derive from the word genus or kind. To be part of a kind, part of a genus, is to have brought being into existence, to have procreated and given birth.
There is such an affirmation of our powers of creativity in this term ‘generosity’ and its related terms! It takes generosity to be generative, to be creative. Is every effort at creativity an act of generosity?
The word ”Kin” means “a group of persons of common ancestry, one’s relatives” according to Webster’s dictionary.
From today’s creation story we know that all being is kin, all flesh is kin, all the beings of the universe are our relatives. We all derive from the same ancestry after all. We are all of one kind, one kin.
What a moment we live in for reinventing and re-celebrating community! Community motivates for generosity—in community people find ways to give with greater abundance born of their sense of belonging.
The word ”kind” as a noun derives from the Old English word cyn or kin. It too denotes “family and lineage, the fundamental nature or essence of a group united by common traits or interests.” (The Latin word for this is genus.)
Who can deny the common interests we share with others of our kin today? The emphasis on “family values” that we hear about today is correct insofar as we seek out the common interests and traits and therefore a common morality in a group that is united.
But it is wrong to narrow the term “family” to only one’s “blood” ancestors.
Our true family is the family of being, the family of creation, the family of our Creator and Source of all being. Is this not why so many traditions have called the Creator “Father” or “Mother”?
The new cosmology has broadened our understanding of family considerably.
The word “kind” as an adjective means affectionate, loving, gentle, or agreeable, and also derives from the terms “kin” and “kind” as nouns.
To be kind goes naturally with being family, with being related, with being kin or of a kind. Families survive by caring and by kindness (hopefully). Kinship leads to kindness—or ought to.
One can expect kindness therefore to take on fuller expression as we live out our true family more fully. It is time we genuinely begin to live out the blessing of our shared 13.8 billion year history with “all our relations.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 382-384.
Also referencing Rupert Sheldrake, Ways to Go Beyond and Why They Work
Banner Image: “Embracing an Elder” Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Are you learning to stretch your meaning of kin and kind? Do you see how this also stretches your capacity for generosity? Both receiving it and becoming for grateful for it as well as giving it?
Fox makes the point that religion has so often oversold the concept of “sin” that it has left us without language or power to combat evil. Through comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.