THE GENEROSITY FOOTPRINT
By Kathleen Reardon
The Huffington Post
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” Rave as they might about the patriotic nature of their motives, far right media pundits and those who follow them have at the base of their actions a deep-seated disdain for people who are in need of help.
They incite people to anger against those who have fallen on hard times, accusing them of burdening society.
We need to wrest the definition of human value away from those who celebrate the pure accumulation of wealth and replace it with an insistent recognition of what each of us does to better the lives of others.
The size of each person’s generosity footprint should be a crucial measure of their personal worth no matter the prestige accorded their path in life. This view doesn’t preclude the accumulation of wealth. It doesn’t demean stature achieved in any field of endeavor. Instead, it calls for a reordering of priorities so that those who toil on behalf of others in need are valued more than the barons of Wall Street whose greed has rendered the necessity for generosity even greater.
As a society, we have been losing our way. We have narrowly defined success and enabled an upper class to accuse those less fortunate of living on “entitlements.” And how is it that tax cuts for the extremely wealthy are not entitlements? Isn’t that exactly, as Vice President Biden noted, what George W. Bush gave them at the expense of the middle class? Why is being selfish and despising of those in need considered more American than extending a hand to another human being? How did acts of kindness become evidence of creeping socialism?
Enough hypocrisy. Enough treating people whose blood runs cold to the needs of others as the best among us.
We should start asking ourselves and those who aspire to obtain our respect and our votes: “What is the size of your generosity footprint? What have you done today and yesterday for people less fortunate than yourself? Who are you, really?”
Generosity can manifest in many forms – from making a commitment to do at least one kind act a day – to volunteering time – to donating goods, services, or money for those in need or an organization working for a cause you believe in. Following are links to some resources to help cultivate generosity:
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation: The Random Acts of Kindness™ Foundation inspires people to practice kindness and to “pass it on” to others. We provide free educational and community ideas, guidance, and other resources to kindness participants through our website.
Idealist.org: Action Without Borders connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.
AWB is independent of any government, political ideology, or religious creed. Our work is guided by the common desire of our members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect.
United We Serve: “United We Serve” is a nationwide service initiative that will help meet growing social needs resulting from the economic downturn. With the knowledge that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools, President Obama is asking us to come together to help lay a new foundation for growth. This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own “do-it-yourself” projects.
GuideStar gathers and publicizes information about non-profit organizations. The mission of GuideStar is: To revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.