Call it Karma. Call it energy. Call it fellowship. Call it being nice. Call it service. Whatever you call it, I believe that you get what you give in this life. I believe this as it is evident in the opportunities I’ve been given to help others. True philanthropy is not tied to a religion, specific society or culture. It’s not being a hippie living in a close-minded liberal soup of laziness and bullshit and denial. Giving does not have a party affiliation with any demographic or way of life.
Check Your Motivation
True philanthropy only comes from helping others for the sake of helping others, with no internal quest for personal credit, no expectation of social capital gain amongst your peers. I believe that the credit you “expect” to get for helping others is equal to the amount of credit you don’t deserve, on the mere premise that an expectation exists on your behalf.
If your philanthropic work brings you personal monetary gain, directly or intrinsically, and instead of said monetary gain being 100% passed onto another charitable cause or effort, then you have poisoned the well. I would go as far as saying that you are not truly aligned with the purity of “real” philanthropy.
Lastly, helping others out of guilt is not philanthropy as you are only helping to pacify and feed your own demons. This is still “taking.”
A great quote I heard in a very cheesy action movie once was, “A true philanthropist will never put themself in a position where they are taking or personally gaining from those around them.” [Paraphrased]
Little Efforts Make Big Waves
Every day, somewhere, sometime, somehow, there are miniscule opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life, which inturn makes a difference in the lives of others, almost immediately. Little opportunities like these can create a real chain reaction that, while you may never physically see the full result, I guarantee happens on some level, at some percentage. Whether it brightens up someone’s shitty weekday morning, taking that edge off of their workday, or pushes someone else back a few feet from the proverbial edge they may have been on after a slough of things that have gone wrong lately in their life, a menial and quick selfless act on your part can really help tip the scales in a positive direction.
Here are some of the types of things even the busiest people in the universe can carve out time for, supporting a positive paradigm shift in humanity:
1. Offer to buy a stranger a cup of coffee in the morning.
2. Ask or call someone you know randomly and ask them how they are doing and then just listen and validate what they are saying.
3. Anonymously donate $5 to a charity of your choice.
4. Volunteer one hour of your time at a retirement center, home or hospice enviroment and keep an elderly person company for a little bit. Those places are lonely and dismal and our country tends to treat seniors as an annoyance as opposed to respected elders in our communities. It’s a shame.
5. Sponsor a low income or disadvantaged family one holiday season. You’d be surprised what $5 in cheap or donated toys does for a child’s spirit when times are tough. That spirit is contagious enough to lighten even the darkest of households.
We Are All The Same (Still)
There is an energy that exudes from humans every day across the globe, an energy that is constantly trying to synergize and be compatible with itself so that we can all just “get along.” I think in some cases we’ve become so fearful and complacent with one another that our personal insecurities have gotten the best of us. This fear and complacence has gotten us to the point where only physical co-existence is becoming the new “getting along.” What a bummer.
I do believe though that there is more hope in small doses than we are ambitious enough to acknowledge, small things that we, over time, inadvertently take for granted thanks to a perpetually imbalanced “work culture” that drives us full speed on the road to nowhere.
I encourage everyone to randomly and anonymously do something nice for one or more people every once in awhile. It’s easy, cheap, and will start to change you from the inside in a way that, if you aren’t used to it, will surprise you, shock you, make you uncomfortable if you aren’t used to feeling vulnerable, and will possibly break you down in a constructive way emotionally that only a few people have been strong enough to accept and experience….and those that have, see the world differently than most of us.