I’m a Philanthropist!

Generally, when we hear of a person being called a philanthropist we think of someone who’s loaded with cash and generously handing it out to just about anyone who asks for it: “the love of humanity”: the type of person we want to be friends with!

But, is the giving of money a true definition of philanthropy? Wikipedia defines it as “private initiatives, for public good, focusing on quality of life“.  That pretty well includes any person who has the good of God’s creation at heart! This would include your local minister, priest, doctor, veterinarian, environmentalist, herbalist, in fact, anyone who holds a title or certificate as a professional in the service of bettering the conditions of humanity or the environment.

On the other hand, does simply holding a service title make you a philanthropist? For example, I may consider myself a youth councillor, and may even be the head of a youth organization and have years of publicly condoned good work under my belt, but secretly, I could be a pedophile, as has been the case with many persons in the news. Can I still consider myself a philanthropist?

One may be a multi millionaire and have many photo ops to his or her credit showing him or her giving thousands, even millions to some well known charity while, unknown to the public, they might have made their millions on the backs of factory workers that were kept under near slave conditions, or they might have caused the deforestation of hundreds of acres of Brazilian forests to feed their hungry chemical factories. Can such a person be called a true philanthropist? Hardly!

As Investopedia defines philanthropy, “Philanthropy must be more than just a charitable donation; it is an effort undertaken by an individual or organization based on an altruistic desire to improve human welfare”. And here, I emphasize the word, altruistic. Although persons like Billionaire Bill Gates, Jami Gertz of the Ressler-Gertz Foundation, and musician, Herb Alpert of the Herb Alpert Foundation give millions to charity, not every public or famous donor should be called a philanthropist. Although persons like Gates and Alpert are to be lauded for their generosity, true philanthropy–true charity, has to come from the heart and has to involve personal involvement in the act of charity: the action has to come from the depths of one’s very soul. I would classify such persons as Mother Teresa, Mahatma Ghandi and Desman Tutu who gave their all, not just a portion of their money to  the public good, as true philanthropists.

 

 

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
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