I don’t know if I’ve ever reposted someone’s blog before, but this one was very well written, and worth passing along.
Sara Martin is an excellent blogger, and very much of the same beliefs and lifestyle that I write about here.
In Sara’s post, she writes about the psychological and emotional journey she went on while daydreaming about winning the lottery. Her discoveries are applicable to everyone, and certainly an important aspect of philanthropy. You will see my comments below where I related it to altruism.
This is definitely worth a read. Check it out here.
Sara Martin is a writer, designer, and marketer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Learn more ways to maximize your creative life at ModernSentiment.com/blog.
Conflict is inevitable, especially if you care enough to push for change. Common reactions to conflict are to avoid it entirely, deny it or fight it.
Governments and other democracies tend to find it easier, and quicker to just attack and destroy the opponent, rather than try and work it out. It’s more efficient in the short term. This is how wars are started.
If your solution to conflict entails someone else’s loss, you’ve fallen short of a potentially extraordinary conclusion.
Alternatively, there is a peaceful path. This path requires a response of listening objectively, problem solving, self control, resilience and commitment to a peaceful and mutually beneficial outcome.
Most importantly, this journey requires a great deal of patience. I’ve found that with liberal amounts of patience, almost anything is possible.
Violence begets violence. We’ve seen this all throughout history. Conversely, I believe patience begets peace. Peace is a product of patience.
When a country wants to stop atrocities or gain access to resources in another country, the tendency is to just go in with force. Why? It’s easier, quicker, and in the short term it serves the stronger country best. However, it almost never lasts and there is always bloodshed. They justify it by calling it “collateral damage”.
People often confuse patience and kindness with weakness. But which of the options I’ve just outlined reflects the most strength? Exhibiting patience and working diligently to find a mutually beneficial solution, or quickly resorting to violently taking what you want? To me, the later seems weak. Anyone can do that.
It would do us well, as an international society, to channel more energy and resources towards fostering more patience. However, with boom of technology, we are heading largely in the opposite direction. We’re a microwave society. We want it all and we want it now. No time to try and figure out a peaceful solution.
This dynamic is very narcissistic and negates all of the wisdom obtained through the journey that patience affords us. No patience, no wisdom.
Peace isn’t something we can force. It’s a process. And it only comes from the journey of discovery and relationship we experience while patiently working toward peace.
If you’re goal is a peaceful outcome, patience is likely the most essential aspect of the process.
Philanthropy is messy. It’s rare that you achieve exactly what you set out to accomplish. The process often involves a lot of frustration, tears, frustration and lack of resolve. Let’s face it; changing the world is no walk in the park.
And if you’re dealing with people, it’s likely they may not be grateful for your investment of time and care. It’s also likely they may choose not to implement your advice or properly utilize the resources you’ve provided.
You set out to achieve something, and then, boom; something completely illogical happens. Someone doesn’t show up. No one cared enough to finish or do it properly. Or worse yet, someone sabotages the program or robs you blind. It happens, often.
You ask yourself if you’re even doing any good. “Am I crazy? Doesn’t anyone care?”
But then I remember that I’m not doing this because of my strong desire to do something good. It’s not because I need a cool accomplishment to add to my collection I don’t do this for a pat on the back or gratitude. I don’t even expect those things. I don’t have anything to prove.
I don’t do what I do to “get results”. So often along the journey of pushing for a certain result, I will discover something even more beautiful and pure than what I was shooting for. And rather than being blinded by my ambition to achieve the original goal, I’m always open to that dynamic.
At the end of the day, I simply do this because I care. That’s enough. I care so much that I can’t stop trying. I can’t stop being an idealist. It doesn’t bother me when people think I’m naïve. When you have nothing to prove, the shackles fall off.
I just keep believing that if I care enough, and consistently listen and act, someone else will benefit from it. And when that’s the only goal, it’s easy to resolve to the fact that you don’t need resolution for a project to be successful You just keep pushing, knowing that somewhere along the way, someone is benefiting from the love you are giving, day in and day out.
If I constantly give love, I can’t go wrong. And I don’t need quantifiable results or an impressive P&L to experience joy from it. The joy comes from the giving. We have a right to giving. But that doesn’t mean we have a right to reaping the fruits of our labor.
The act of serving and giving has to be enough. Otherwise, it will never be…enough.
I think it’s natural for anyone altruistic to continually seek higher forms of altruism.
Lately, as Ilea and I raise Francois, I realize more and more how important it is to invest in children. I believe the best way we can develop a more peaceful world is to raise up generations of children committed to living as vessels of love.
This led me to thinking more about the role of a mother. The more I thought, the more I realized the magnitude of her role. Mothers are our only source of life in this world. The only. Clearly something significant is represented there.
Despite endless knowledge of the life to come, a woman chooses to forego life as she knows it to carry a baby for 40 weeks. I cannot imagine what it must feel like, to carry a human in my belly. I honestly believe it is unfathomable for any man.
She knowingly and willingly chooses to go into labor and deliver this human from her body. She knows what is coming, yet she doesn’t abort. She endures the pain breathes life into the world. This is courage like I’ve rarely witnessed in the bravest of men.
She resolves to spending the rest of her life nurturing, teaching and guiding that child. And she does this knowing that she lives in a man’s world and that her role will often be thankless and unnoticed. But she presses on because her gratification comes not from her glorification, but from her compulsion to show love to her child. Her happiness is tied to theirs.
She spends her life serving her family, ensuring they are safe, cared for and know they are loved. And many more mothers are also the primary provider for the family. This is among the rarest and highest forms of dedication I know. It’s a lifelong commitment.
From conception to the end of that child’s life, mothering has the power to change the world more than any other altruistic act I can imagine. They have the power to create a human that proliferates love and incites peace. Can you think of anything more powerful than a world full of these types of people?
Mothers bring life into the world. We owe them our utmost respect.
I believe mothering is the pinnacle of altruism. If we want a more peaceful, egalitarian society, we should turn our focus towards teaching more effective mothering. If you want to contribute to a better world, start, join or support something that fosters more ethically and morally grounded mothering.
But the most important contribution we could make to society is to start valuing the role of a mother more than we do that of a military officer, politician, big business owner or celebrity. Being a mother should be the most valued and respected role in humanity.
I think it’s time we regarded the role of motherhood as the pinnacle of all altruistic endeavors. There simply is no more significant or profound role that a human could live out.
To all of the mothers out there, thank you for breathing life into this world and exemplifying altruism so profoundly. You challenge and inspire me.
Western society is largely driven by the desire to have more and do more. More money, more power, more recognition for their work, more time in the day. Make every sacrifice you can in order to create a long list of notable achievements, awards and things that you own. Then spend lots of time listing all of them in your CV, office wall, LinkedIn and facebook so everyone knows how successful you are.
That seems to be a never-ending race that you’ll never allow yourself to win. Because there’s always more to be had and more to be done.
The older I get, the more I turn my focus to being more, rather than doing more. Being more (for me) means making a more positive impact in the world, investing more deeply in relationships, being more whimsical, giving more, staying fit and healthy and enjoying life’s journey, rather than always focusing on the destination.
The drive to work more hours, get more recognition and gather up more achievements often prevent us from being the person we were created to be. We all have a purpose. And I’m pretty sure it’s not a race to see who can do the most before they die.
There is a happy medium, and that’s the journey we’re all on. Action is necessary. We have to do in order to be. But our lives should not be a quest to gather up things, money and accomplishments.
Think about the happiest moments in your life. Why did they make you happy? With that in mind, how do you govern and prioritize your day?
If you know the goal is a higher quality of life, shouldn’t that be what drives you? Somehow society has conditioned (and convinced) the western world to believe that quest is irresponsible, unworthy and only achieved through financial wealth.
I believe it’s time we put the higher value on relationships and meaningful work rather than finances and achievements. Let’s be more.
Most people have an expectation of what philanthropy or humanitarianism should look like. And much of it has little to do with the impact being made through their efforts.
If someone drops they’re “normal” existence, moves to Calcutta and dedicates their life to attending to the sick and the poor, it’s expected they will undoubtedly be revered as a humanitarian.
Teenagers and twenty-somethings are protesting, signing petitions, volunteering, resisting tyranny and flocking to conflict zones all over the world. It’s become trendy to do so, and frankly, I can’t think of a better trend to foster.
However, this pervasive belief that humanitarianism needs to look a certain way, or be in a certain place is quite problematic. With new technologies, ease of travel and the proliferation of social entrepreneurialism, the face of humanitarianism is evolving daily.
A woman in New York City can create a business selling luxury home décor items sourced from a tiny village in Nepal. She may have a beautiful boutique and wealthy customers that she wines and dines in order to keep up solid client relations. Her life does not look the same as the woman tending to sick children in the streets of Calcutta.
But the work this woman is doing in NYC is likely providing income and dignity for a multitude Nepalese families. This work is just as powerful, and likely more sustainable and beneficial than the work of the woman tending to the sick in Calcutta.
We need both. It’s easier than ever to do good in the world. And it has a lot of different faces. The more we embrace this dynamic, the more long lasting good we can incite.
I’m a firm believer that we all have a choice. We make choices every second of our lives that determine our reality. Ultimately, we all do exactly what we want; it’s just a matter of how badly we want it.
But does a child growing up in the inner city in Chicago or Compton understand that she has a choice? Does a young African living in the Kibera slums (in Nairobi, Kenya) understand that she has a choice?
As humanitarians, we ask ourselves what we can do to help the poor, or even eradicate extreme poverty. Yes, we can intervene, remove the immediate problems, put someone in a new environment and begin to provide opportunities, but most of these tactics are still short term at best. They are all dependent on the beneficiaries understanding and ability to process and implement the changes.
I believe our most effective strategy for helping the poor is to instill a new perspective and way of thinking. Yes, we all have a choice. But if you have never learned that you have a choice, and you’ve never disciplined yourself to keep a healthy perspective, no amount of opportunities or change of environment are going to make the difference.
True transformation cannot take place until a person can create a habit and lifestyle of seeing the world differently. As humanitarians, we have a duty to liberate people’s minds and teach them a new perspective.
The mind is the most powerful tool known to man. It’s central to every human action, or inaction. If we’re going to tackle an issue like extreme poverty, the mind is the first place to start. Without that foundation, our efforts are futile.
If you want to help, teach those less fortunate than you to think differently. Help them understand that they have a choice. And then teach them the disciplines that will help them attain the dreams that unfold from their new perspective.
Your best effort as a philanthropist is to liberate the minds of the people you’ve set out to help.
I’ve been writing a lot about celebrity philanthropy lately. Suffice it to say, it has been the topic of many conversations lately amongst friends here in Kenya.
I’m a supporter of celebrity philanthropy. When a celebrity uses their power to support a great organization, cause or campaign, I consider that a success for mankind.
There are some methods that are better than others, for sure.
Typically, a celebrity will be exposed to a cause or campaign, latch on to it, and use their fame to support an organization that addresses those issues. The system is quite effective, and generally represents a large portion of the marketing focus for a non-profit or social venture.
Many other celebrities will find a cause they are passionate about and will actually start a new charity to address those issues. In my opinion, there is much less need for this type of methodology. Unless you’re committed to devoting your life to the cause, don’t start a charity. That goes for anyone, not just celebrities.
I’d like to throw out sort of a celebrity challenge, for more effective philanthropy from their world.
There are thousands of amazing philanthropists around the world that have devoted their lives to their work. They live it, day in and day out. Their work is their life, and they are grateful for it.
These philanthropists are not typically famous, wealthy or able to influence the masses. Their work often goes unnoticed by the masses. They work in remote parts of the world and live lives very different from most of the rest of society.
They know how to stretch a dollar farther than you can possibly imagine. They know how to survive on virtually nothing at all and they know what true suffering is because they see it daily.
Now enters the celebrity.
I challenge celebrities of all types, not to go out and find a cause or organization to support, but to spend their time seeking out these individuals. Find them. Learn about them. Spend time with them. Know them.
Then, use your celebrity power to support their work.
They know what needs to be done on the ground. They just need the funding and influence to make their ideas come into fruition.
If you’re a celebrity and you want to make a positive impact on the world, seek these people out and support them. This type of collaboration could be the most powerful movement that philanthropy has ever seen.
Celebrity philanthropy is quite a hot topic these days. They have their share of haters, but overall, I support their decision to leverage their finances, time and influence for altruism, no matter their reason for doing it.
I’m not real choosey about who wants to be a philanthropist or why. I have more complaints about those that choose to do nothing at all.
If someone offers you money, investment, promotion, endorsement or any other type of support, and it fulfills your need, does it really matter what their reasons for supporting are?
Sure, you want them to do it for some beautiful reason that fits your idealism. But at the end of the day, you’re still getting what you need, and they’re getting more deeply invested in the cause. What better process for them to do it for the “right reasons” over time?
Sometimes philanthropists get so caught up in their work that they forget how impacting it can be for their donors as well. For many celebrities, it’s a game changing experience in their life.
Do I care why Ben Affleck started Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI)? No, I don’t. What I do care about is the fact that it’s one of the most effective organizations working in the DRC right now, and ultimately, Ben is becoming an expert on the topic.
He’s invested. He’s there, in Congo, often. He’s supporting people like Harper McConnell Katondolo, one of the most integral philanthropists I know. She is our DRC guru, and now she’s getting the recognition she deserves, largely because Ben has the power to support and expose her amazing work.
Harper was doing amazing work many years ago. She’s done even more amazing work since. Today she’s doing amazing work with a huge audience and platform of influence, largely because of Ben’s support.
Harper’s work ethic, passion and commitment didn’t change at all. But Ben gave her the platform to do the things she’s longed to do (that required more capital and mass influence), but couldn’t.
That’s powerful, and beautiful. I certainly can’t find any reasons not to support this type of activity.
Why are these celebrities using their star power to generate millions of dollars for charity and garner backing from influential political leaders when they could just keep buying Ferraris and houses in the Hamptons? It’s madness!
When was the last time you dedicated even a fraction of your time, money or influence towards a philanthropic endeavor, much less countless hours and millions of dollars?
What are you doing right now to make the world a better, more peaceful and loving place?
When was the last time you honed your musical talent, created a successful rock band and dropped $32 Billion in debt from 18 African countries or raised more money and awareness for eradicating HIV (in Africa) than any other human on the planet? Bono does that in his spare time. Literally.
Clooney just launched the Satellite Sentinel Project, designed to deter mass atrocities and crimes against humanity in Sudan/South Sudan. I’ve been volunteering and lobbying for this kind of effort in that region for almost 10 years. Clooney put this together in less than a year and it’s one of the most effective philanthropic initiatives I’ve ever witnessed. Phenomenal.
Pitt and Jolie have given Millions of dollars to philanthropy. Jolie has spent serious amounts of time in over 22 poverty stricken countries, purchased fleets of airplanes, acted as a UNHCR ambassador, flown into into extreme threat zones when others wouldn’t and on and on. Pitt and Jolie donated $8 Million in 2006 alone.
In December 2001, Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addition vocalist and creator of Lollapalooza) flew into politically-troubled Sudan with other members of Christian Solidarity International to negotiate the release of Sudanese slaves. Jane’s Addiction donated their earnings from one concert for the redemption of over 2,300 people. This is a rock star that most parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to.
I could go on and on. The list is endless. I’ve only touched on a few, largely because they are the ones most criticized.
Is there anyone that can look at this list, along with thousands of other instances, and say that this work shouldn’t have been done? Is their work irrelevant because they are famous?
Do these celebrities gain more power and money because of their good deeds? They sure do. Why shouldn’t they? It just gives them more power and money to do more good.
There are plenty of celebs out there just using their power for personal gain. If you want to gripe about celebrities, how about putting the negative focus on them?
How hypocritical and dichotomous is it for people to criticize celebs for doing good around the world? Who cares what they gain from it? All I care about is the fact that so much good is being done in such a public manner that it’s creating a new standard and trend. Can you think of a better trend to foster?
Seriously. Why would you fight a trend of famous, influential rich people donating their time and money to philanthropy? Really?
Who needs celebrity philanthropy? The world does. In fact, we could use a little philanthropy from anyone willing to do it well, don’t you think?