Fundamentally, charity is a function of giving to ourselves. Recognizing the parts of us that, at one point, were broken, lost, and afraid. The emotional and personal benefits are exponential, and are not the only kinds that exist. “Giving back” feeds the potential of our world and nourishes a spiritual and personal hunger to advance humanity as a whole, something which has been hardwired in us since the dawn of time. Wisely and effectively executed, charity work and the spirit of philanthropy plants seeds in society and in the hearts and minds of each individual recipient for a brighter tomorrow.
What Is And Isn’t Philanthropy
Altruism, in effect, is the spreading of a positive idea, a value, that carries its own source of energy from giver to recipient and vice versa. As a function, philanthropy serves to empower the strengths and ideals of the underprivileged, that they may too be a source of alleviation for another man’s suffering.
Philanthropy is not a means of alleviating our own guilt and sense of obligation out of self preservation. In other words, if others are acting kindly and virtuously in service to the disadvantaged, one must not act in same out of a sense of comparison. Doing as others do is an empty pursuit and displays shallowness of character. Charitable giving executed out of a sense of obligation and pride (specifically, vanity) speaks more of one’s weak character than for whatever goodness that exists in the act of giving. And, giving to simply placate recipients rather than to empower another’s own creative powers reveals more of a desire to control than to liberate through giving. The analogy, “Teach a man to fish…” comes into mind.
Empowering Our Weakest Members
We have all experienced moments in our lives in which we have been faced with our own humanity: our hunger, our fear, our ignorance, our occasional sense of loneliness and the general haunting sense of disorientation on our life’s path. These feelings of humanness remind us that we all experience pain at one point in our lives. Charitable giving shows others who are now where we once have been that this undesired state is only temporary and that life does indeed go on – and for the better, should we so decide. Empowerment is a force of energy that propels those who are “stuck” and lost forward, therefore influencing humanity as a whole to move forward. A team, in other words, is as strong as its weakest member. Therefore, the benefits of philanthropy means advancement for the whole in its innumerable ways.
Human Potential: Proof That We Can Work Together
Our brains have been hardwired to solve problems – not only as individuals, but as a collective. Uniting differing individuals on a common problem simply demonstrates that man can and will work together consciously towards a higher, nobler purpose; Giving naysayers irrefutable proof that we can, and do, put our differences aside and work together.
Acts of charity are seeds that are planted in the hearts and minds of those who give and in those who receive. Potential is what fuels the human experience and dares us to do more with what seems to be less. Again, empowerment plays a key in that it grows as a result of compassion and empathy. The true spirit of charity puts power back into the hands of those who have been dis-empowered.
I know firsthand what true charity means. My family was a recipient of a Habitat For Humanity home. Before then, we mostly lived in trailers and roach infested housing. Being a young girl and participating in the construction on our first real home (without wheels) left a lasting impression on me that gave me a sense of community, responsibility, ownership, and stewardship. The hundreds of volunteers who gave their time, energy, and resources fueled my great sense of charity today. 20 years later, their compassion lives on in me and will continue through my children.
Finally, giving back is a misnomer because it truly means giving forward, towards the advancement of all of us here today and for those generations of tomorrow – all because we know what it was like to feel dis-empowered yesterday. Philanthropy is power – a reminder of what is possible and what we are all truly capable of achieving together.
Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Ourselves
1. When was the last time that I recognized the disempowerment that I felt at one point in someone else? How did that influence me then and now?
2. Do I give out of obligation? Do I fee
l resentful when I donate my time or money? What causes those feelings?
3. Taking a look at the weakest and under represented around me, how can I be a source of empowerment to encourage others to take back their own power?
4. When was the last time that I put my differences aside and worked together with someone for a common goal? What did I learn?
5. How as my life been influenced by the kindness of another? In what ways did I pay it forward?
Leslie Juvin-Acker is the contributing career and leadership expert at Malakye.com, a job board for the action sports and lifestyle industries based in Southern California.