This I Believe

Julie - Boynton Beach, Florida
Entered on January 29, 2007

My mother always said, “God only gives you as much as you can handle.” Surely God never gave birth, or dealt with the terrible two’s, or had the pleasure of parenting a “Tweener” going on 21. Granted, He had His own challenges – like creating the entire world in just 7 days. Aside from that, I’m not sure He could have survived today’s fast-paced, politically-correct, self-serving environment. Maybe, He would have just given up.

And perhaps He has. He doesn’t seem to be around. Because if He were, I believe so-called “philanthropists” would be seriously called to the mat.

Of course, there are a million good deeds performed each day that go unnoticed. Like graciously letting someone cut in front of you in traffic; coaching basketball at the YMCA; or giving a couple of bucks to the “Homeless Voice,” a legitimate and worthy fundraising organization in South Florida.

But sometimes philanthropy is a double-edged sword. I know this, because I was entrenched in it for five years at a very legitimate and worthy non-profit institution. I found that philanthropists may give, but they damn well better get something back in return. This, I believe, is at best, disheartening. But mostly, it’s unconscionable.

Philanthropy is – according to Webster – “…a charitable act or gift; goodwill towards all people.” Where was the part that said “…which requires a great amount of public recognition in local media outlets, wall signage and inclusion in the member newsletter..?”

It’s not there. That’s the definition of someone who gives for the glory, not for the cause.

Ok, I’m a little upset about this. But I understand the need to create a legacy; a lasting impression of one’s generosity; and a back up for tax write-offs. But perhaps those philanthropists would be better off giving their money to the latest Hollywood film – that way, their name could actually be in lights.

I’d rather receive 100 $20 donations from those who care about the organization’s mission, than one $2000 donation from one who could care less. It’s the ones who give because they want to – not because their neighbors do – who have earned my respect and gratitude.

But, I also believe something else. I believe that God really is up there and He’s taking notes. And not for the next “Heaven Monthly Magazine.” He’s taking notes that He’ll refer to when we meet him face to face – and he says, “So, did YOU make the world a better place?” And we can say, with sincerity, “Thank you for blessing me with such good fortune. I shared my goodwill with all people. I handled all of the challenges you gave me, with the humility and grace that you have blessed me with.” And then, finally, we can say, “I have handled all God has given me.” And, if we all do this, I’m willing to bet – all of our names will be emblazoned on the ultimate “Wall of Fame.”