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We can all be philanthropists

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By John Morse

Once we recognize that philanthropy is not the responsibility of only the wealthy, we are able to consider our individual responsibilities and opportunities.

Those include giving money, caring and sharing in our interdependent world with webs of critical issues related to our common goal of sustainability with life quality.

This way of thinking is in accord with the fact that the Greek root of the word philanthropy is philanthropos, the love of mankind.

And yet, if one thinks globally and recognizes the interdependence of all living things, today’s philanthropy becomes a love of all kind.

This ties with the fact that humans do not differ from all living things that thrive through mutual and cooperative exchanges, symbiosis, synergism and obligatory associations.

All this suggests that each of us have the potential for being philanthropic agents acting for the common good.

And this nicely leads on to the realization that, after all, the Latin root of the word religion is ligare, to bind, to bind together.

This way of thinking leads to changes in behavior.

Those who are able to save can accumulate money for charitable purposes; all others can adopt personal, family and community life styles that mirror nature: recycling, repair, ruse, and certainly rethinking.

All of this has to do with the human footprint and sustainable development with global implications.

The 1992 Rio World Summit identified the basic problem as being a matter of sustainable production and consumption.

The U.S. with its advertising and credit-card use is a wasteful and profligate consumer culture with low and, at times, a negative rate of saving.

Appropriate behavior involves saving, conservation, rejection of materialism, recycling/repairing, critical thinking, and mutually agreed upon laws, regulations, economic policies and budgets.

This is a matter of culture that requires completeness of public understanding of how the world works so that our “oughts,” or values, are formed, based on what is.

Through our style of living and giving, we can all be philanthropists with a “love of all kind.”


John Morse of Raleigh, N.C., is co-founder, with his wife, Libby, of the Survival in Freedom Fund and Integrative Strategies Forum.

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