Philanthropy and charity are not the answer
A huge tusker was crossing a wooden bridge A fly was perched on his left earlobe After they got across, the fly said, Hey, didnt we really shake up that bridge That sums up the human attitude today Though we are a microscopic speck in the cosmic scale, we delude ourselves that we are the centre of creation We think the planet is in peril when only human existence and wellbeing are truly i
A huge tusker was crossing a wooden bridge. A fly was perched on his left earlobe. After they got across, the fly said, “Hey, didn’t we really shake up that bridge?” That sums up the human attitude today. Though we are a microscopic speck in the cosmic scale, we delude ourselves that we are the centre of creation. We think the planet is in peril when only human existence and well-being are truly imperilled.
We are now moving from the dominance of ideology, power and faith to an era of economic leadership. You could never get any two leaders to agree on anything. Religious leaders couldn’t, because if they did, their business was imperilled. Military leaders couldn’t, because there would be no more borders to defend if they did. And political leaders, as we know, never agree on anything. But business leaders are willing to make a deal with just about anybody – if the deal is good!
Good intentions have messed up the planet for long enough. What we need is a willingness to move from personal ambition to a larger vision, from a narrow understanding of well-being to a more inclusive one.
While philanthropy is laudable, it is not, in the long run, a sustainable answer to the world’s economic injustices. It is also time we evolved beyond the condescension implicit in the idea of charity. Whether it is in marriage or the market, no transaction can be sustained unless both parties benefit. Philanthropy suggests that only one party benefits; the other gets some heavenly benefits, perhaps!
What then is the sustainable option? Quite simply, the option would be one that expands human aspiration; not one that curtails it. Every human being seeks well-being. Whether you are selling a computer, spacecraft or safety pin, every business is about human well-being. The only problem is that your idea of profit is short-term and exclusive. If you are seriously thinking of a prosperous business in the long term, it is important to see everyone as your potential partner, not your adversary. You could invest in rural education, for instance, and harvest a new crop of devoted and educated employees two decades into the future. This is not philanthropy; this is investment.
But, human understanding of growth has meant accumulation, because most individuals are constrained by boundaries of physicality. Since the body is a heap of food and the mind a heap of impressions gathered over time, the model of growth has been essentially acquisitive and cumulative. If you are only interested in accumulating muscle – whether physical, financial or cerebral – it means you are invested in someone else’s depletion or failure. This is not growth. This is sickness.
The only key to sustainable growth is consciousness. When your experience of life transcends the limitations of physical boundaries, you realise that the very nature of life is inclusive. There is no other way to be. Yet, we have constructed our lives around our physicality, not around the fundamental nature of who we are.
Without raising human consciousness there is no way to craft a world that is inclusive and sustainable. If you work with personal ambition, the world becomes your rival and antagonist. If you work with an inclusive vision, the world works with you. Everyone becomes your partner. This is the priority shift we need so urgently in the world today: from making a killing to making a difference.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev