Danny De Gracia: How to Make a Big Difference With Your $300 Refund - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Many Hawaii residents will be starting out the first week of September with their Act 115 tax refunds, which will put as much as $300 back into their bank accounts.

You might be obsessing right now over how much fuel, how many items in the grocery store, or how many bills an additional $300 can cover. Or, you might not even think $300 is a big deal at all, because you’re so affluent.

But what if I told you there’s a way the community can use its Act 115 refund to bring about a huge impact for their families, neighbors, and even the state as a whole?

The Scarcity Vs. Abundance Mindset

One of the greatest evils of going through an inflationary crisis is that it not only changes the way we look at money, but it also transforms our perceived relationships and responsibilities toward others.

In Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None,” the protagonist infamously declares, “I am a law only for my own, I am no law for everyone … What’s best belongs to mine and to me; if one doesn’t give it to us, then we take it … What do the marketplace and the rabble and the rabble noise and long rabble ears matter to me!”

Charity and empathy are powerful forces for reform in a place like Hawaii where scarcity and lack are beginning to take root. Danny de Gracia/Civil Beat/2019

People with a scarcity mindset can easily become so focused on amassing money that they can become indifferent to the needs of others and mercenary in what they are willing to do just to get a few more dollars in their pockets. If one is not careful, money can so consume one’s thinking that we start to view others as expendable in our pursuits of short-term profits. In the end, a scarcity mindset only results in more scarcity for everyone, because nothing good is ever left for anyone.

By contrast, an abundance mindset understands that money is only a tool to be used, not the end goal in life to be attained. Furthermore, “price” is only what we pay, but “value” is what we get. When you understand these principles, every decision that you make with money becomes an opportunity to do good and add value to yourself and the people around you.

We Need To Think Differently About The $300

You could easily go right to the gas station as soon as the direct deposit drops or the check from the State arrives for $300. You could even throw that money right at your electric bills. That’s easy. Everyone does that. (I’m even tempted to go to Ala Moana, personally.) But I would like to challenge the people of Hawaii to do something radical and engage in a social experiment. Instead of spending the entire $300 refund on yourself, I challenge everyone reading this to take at least $50 of their Act 115 money and to give it to one other person in their life here in Hawaii.

I call this concept “the $50 generosity challenge.” It’s a small state we live in here in Hawaii, and an even smaller island on Oahu, so if many people try this, the domino effect could be significant.

What would this accomplish? Well, some people in the community might give $50 and get nothing back in return. Others may give $50 and receive exactly $50 back from someone else. Still others, however, may receive multiple unexpected donations of $50 from multiple people, thus resulting in some having a lot more than just the Act 115 $300 to spend or make use of. But at least one person in your immediate sphere of influence is going to be surprised with something good that they did not expect. At least one person who needed more than $300 to make ends meet will get more than $300, and for even the sake of that one person, your generosity will make an impact.

You could even take this a step further by giving $100 split two ways, or even the whole $300 split six ways. The object of this exercise — which could be scary for some — is to take the focus off yourself and your situation and to create opportunities for other people to gain something in their lives.

As a Christian, I am a firm believer in the concept written about by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:7 which says, “Let each one give as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves, He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or do without a cheerful, joyous, prompt-to-do-it giver whose heart is in his giving.”

Charity and empathy are powerful forces for reform in a place like Hawaii where scarcity and lack are beginning to take root. When we think in terms of abundance, we open up opportunities and unlock hearts and minds. We need to start thinking about how we can be more generous to other people, how we can help other people, and how we can encourage other people with the small things we have to make big effects for the community as a whole.

Let’s take this even further. What would happen if we spent every day thinking about how we could add value to the lives of other people? What would happen if every day we surprised someone with something that made it easier to live in Hawaii? What would happen if, instead of perpetually debating what the meaning of “aloha” was, we showed aloha by being generous, hospitable, and charitable to everyone in our lives?

Think about it, and seriously consider trying this. Want to “stimulate” the economy as a whole? Start by igniting someone’s hope. A small act of compassion, done by enough people, can make a big difference in this state.

Read this next:

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Latest Comments (0)

I donated my federal stimulus check to others. I have yet to see any difference.

Kakaako96814 · 4 months ago

I'd rather spend the money on myself, and, at the same time, help others. Here's how I plan to accomplish this. I will spend my $300 eating out at locally-owned restaurants. That way I get a good meal, and I support these hard-working business owners make a living. Win-win situation for both of us.

nkc · 4 months ago

I think what the author is truly asking is to show kindness. Random, caring, empathy for another without thinking what's in it for me. It can be a hard, sometimes mean world out there. Money helps some, but more importantly the giving of yourself in small ways or large in recognition of the very human need to feel for others.

oldsurfa · 4 months ago

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