“Those best parts of a good life: little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.”– William Wordsworth
You probably achieved the success and earned the good life you enjoy today because you cleared articulated and defined your purpose in life, made good plans, deliberately built your personality and brand, as well as developed your competencies. In addition to these, you were also passionate, patient, and persistent, deliberately built contacts and managed relationships. On account of these efforts, you deserve all the rewards of your labour.
But what have you done to earn the air that you breathe, the sun, the moon, the rain and the breath of life that you enjoy today? If you have no other motivation to give back to society, just remember that you owe nature and society for the opportunity and privileges you have enjoyed. Life, air, sun, rain, etc. are things you did not pursue or work for to enjoy. Philanthropy, at its core, is having a love for humanity.
Giving back to society is also a debt that you owe because you live in a society that rewarded you for the efforts you put in to deserve the excellent life you have. There are millions of people who are willing and able to make the sacrifices you have made, but who do not have such opportunities. Think of the nations at war. Think of those held captive by oppressors. Think of those in countries and regions ravaged by drought, famine, flood, natural disasters, diseases, etc. Think of those who, for no fault of theirs were born blind, mentally challenged, deformed, abused and abandoned by the society. Think of those gifted and intelligent ones who for no fault of theirs were born into abject poverty or forced into slavery and prostitution.
Think of those who would go to bed for days without food, clean portable water and basic necessities of life. Think of those who would die today because they cannot afford hospital bills; children who would be thrown out of school because their parents cannot pay school fees; widows who would be oppressed today because there is nobody to advocate for them; young girls who would go into prostitution because that is the only painful option left for them. Think of those rotting in prisons and detention centres because there is nobody to offer the police officer a little bribe or someone to defend them in court. A number of these people did nothing to deserve the end of the stick they hold. A lot of them had misfortune thrust on them! Can they break out of these situations and circumstances, apply themselves to the principles and demands of excellence and succeed in life?
Of course, they can, and indeed should! But they need you and me to give a helping hand, to lend our support, to hold the ladder for them. And there is a lot we can give.
1. We can give our time. You don’t have to visit the prisons or orphanages with a truckload of supplies. A little time invested in carrying those babies, playing with them and being their parent for that day can make a whole world of difference. A few minutes devoted to counselling, encouraging and chatting with prisoners can free their minds and change them for good.
2. Devoting your time in your place of worship to teaching kids is a philanthropic gesture.
3. Being a mentor or coach to young people in your neighbourhood can be your contribution to creating another generation of very successful people.
4. Giving a listening ear and offering counsel to those confused can be all that is required of you.
5. Offering a scholarship to an indigent child in your community can be a way of saying thank you to society and nature.
6. Millions of people would die today because of the lack of drinking water. If you can’t sink a borehole in a community, how about making it possible for people in your neighbourhood to have access to the water from your home? Just a hose thrown across your fence can quench so many thirsty throats.
7. You can mobilise medical personnel to do medical check-up for the aged in your community. Diagnosis alone can save the lives of those who would have resorted to self-medication based on a false assumption of their real ailment.
8. Of course, you can go a step further and provide medical facilities to a community.
9. You can build an orphanage, a home for the elderly, reform centre for ex-convicts, etc. and hand over to experts to run.
10. You can start a feeding support programme in prisons.
11. You can endow chairs in schools.
12. You can sponsor youths to learn one handiwork or the other.
13. You can set up trusts for one philanthropic or charity course or the other.
14. You can donate books to libraries.
15. What are those old clothes, shoes, accessories, furniture, kitchenware, cars and things you have not used and will not use for ages still doing in your house, store or garage?
16. There are victims of war and natural disasters who need your help.
17. Youths are roaming about the streets who need rehabilitation before they become full-blown criminals and attack you and I.
18. There are opportunities to volunteer for charity walks, races and other activities for one cause or the other.
19. What have you done for the schools that nurtured you to your excellent life?
20. Open your eyes and look around you; open your mind and see the numerous opportunities to give back to nature and society for all the free things and opportunities you have enjoyed.
You won’t realise what true happiness is until you shed the tears of joy that come from the smiles you plant on the faces of others. What can be more gratifying than to encounter people whose lives you have saved; those that would have wasted their natural intelligence and talents if you hadn’t placed them on scholarship; the orphans who know you as the only real father; the communities you have rescued from preventable diseases; the ones that can now drink portable water, visit hospitals and go to school because of you; the young man who would have been sentenced to death if you hadn’t offered free legal services; the widow that would have been oppressed if you didn’t stand with, and for her.
A true-life of excellence is impossible without giving.
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” – ALBERT PIKE