The Gift Manifesto
[This is the text (or at least the spirit) of the manifesto I delivered at Forest Fringe this summer as part of One Minute Manifestos, a project curated by Lucy Ellinson in which anyone and everyone who wanted to had 60 seconds to say what they felt to a packed audience at Forest Fringe. Those lovely folk who chose to be involved included Chris Thorpe, Alex Kelly, Tom Frankland, Polarbear and Lucy herself. I can’t remember exactly what I said and unfortunately I totally failed to save it, but this is about it.]
The deed is everything, the glory naught. (Goethe)
This is the Gift Manifesto.
We live in an age of rampant capitalism.
An age when the laws of the market pervade our every interaction – financial, political, social, personal.
An age when we can understand our relationship with the world only in terms of value and return. When all is reduced to a commodifiable transaction.
There is no alternative, no escape, because this is not simply a system that surrounds us, it is one that we embody, and perpetuate with nearly every thought and gesture.
In such an age the gift is a radical gesture. A tiny rupture in our understanding of the world. A space opened up to think differently. To exist differently. To relate to each other differently.
Giving is a revolutionary act.
But we have forgotten how to give properly.
So this manifesto is a guide.
A guide to radical giving.
Do not do unto other as you would have them do unto you. This is not giving it is a transaction.
Do not pay it forward. This is not giving, it is a balance sheet.
Do not give to those in need of your gift. Those who will suffer without it. This is not giving, this is common decency.
Give when nobody asked
Give when nobody expected
Give in the unlikeliest of circumstances
Give to the unlikeliest of recipients
Give to those who don’t want your gift.
Give when it inconveniences you
Give when it pains you
Give in imaginative, radical, impossible ways.
Give in ways that don’t even look like giving.
Gestures become strategies become ways of living.
A few well placed gifts could change the world.