Reciprocity

RECIPROCITY – one of my favourites from the ancient world.  Would like to see more of this in the modern world.

The cornerstone of ancient Greek values was reciprocity, or mutual exchange between two or more people. Greek people relied on reciprocity, a simple system of transaction. For instance, if I offered you a jar of olive oil for your spear, and if you considered this a fair trade, then both of us would benefit from this reciprocal transaction. 

There may be times when I may want to give a gift, not expecting something in return immediately. Suppose that something terrible happens to my home like a fire, or someone has stolen all my belongings. I might come to you and ask for some provisions. Since I have nothing to repay you, there is no question of an exchange.  So you reason that if you give me some food, I may not repay you, but some day if something terrible happens to you, I could help you out as you did me. You do this because you would like to rely on the kindness of others at some future date, which is still an act of belief in reciprocity. You are simply not expecting reciprocity at the moment. This sort of reciprocity was used extensively by travellers (especially in The Odyssey). Reciprocity, relies on the honor and good will of all participants.

Wouldn’t it be great to see more of this in the world?

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