We Make a Life by What We Give
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Indiana University Press
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One of our first moral opportunities in life is to share. It is a lesson that we begin learning when we are very young, yet we cannot excel at as youngsters. Although children inspire us with beautiful acts of spontaneous generosity, they cannot grasp the full range of human needs and aspirations that inspire giving. ...
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It is at least ironic and perhaps even inappropriate that a book on giving and gratitude should contain a section entitled “acknowledgments,” when what is clearly called for is not acknowledgment but hearty thanks. The lenses through which this book explores giving were the gifts of many people, and were polished by still more. ...
1. Imagining Philanthropy
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What is our image of philanthropy? This question is worth pondering because our philanthropic practice is powerfully informed by our philanthropic aspirations. A rich image can open up possibilities for philanthropic excellence, enhancing the lives of both givers and recipients. ...
2. The Golden Rule
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Professions such as medicine and philanthropy cannot thrive if we cease to be professionals committed first and foremost to the welfare of those we serve, becoming instead mere trade associations devoted to our own economic advantage. One of the defining features of a profession is adherence to beneficent ethical standards, ...
3. Four Gifts
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Philanthropic individuals and organizations play a vital role in the health of democratic societies, the relief of human suffering, and the cultivation of human excellence. Yet many of us operate with a relatively underdeveloped philosophical framework. We have robust theories of the roles of entrepreneurs and consumers ...
4. The Potential to Share
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In what does our humanity consist? In his Lives of the Philosophers, Diogenes Laertius tells that Plato once defined man as a featherless animal that walks about on two legs. When Diogenes of Sinope heard this, he immediately went out and plucked a chicken. Returning to the classroom, he threw the bird into the room, crying, “Here is Plato’s human being!” ...
5. The Good Samaritan
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One of the most famous parables in the New Testament, present only in the Gospel of Luke, is the Good Samaritan. In it, a scholar of religion asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. In the course of addressing this question, Jesus connects eternal life with conduct toward neighbors, ...
6. Egoism, Altruism, and Service
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Some people assume that life offers two and only two alternative moral orientations: egoism and altruism. Egoism is the view that in the moral realm, self-interest rules. It is derived from the Latin root ego, meaning “I.” Egoism should be distinguished from egotism. ...
7. Doing Well by Doing Good
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George Bernard Shaw once described professions as “conspiracies against the laity.” Shaw’s accusation can also be interpreted as a challenge: will professional organizations rise above the temptation to act as cartels protecting their members’ economic self-interest and instead put the needs of others first? ...
8. Idealists and Realists
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Once Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was speaking with an American soldier in Paris when the GI expressed the view that modern painting is inferior because it is not sufficiently realistic. Picasso let the remark pass, but when the soldier later showed him a photo of his girlfriend, he exclaimed, “My! Is she really that small?” ...
9. What Are We Part of ?
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In our culture, dependency bears pejorative connotations, occasionally even disrepute. To be dependent can imply a state of helplessness, the inability to provide for or defend ourselves. For example, infants are wholly dependent on their parents for food, shelter, clothing, and so on. ...
10. The Seven Deadly Sins
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The seven deadly sins have been featured in a number of Western civilization’s classic works, including Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Christopher Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. In more recent times, the concept of sin has been somewhat muted, ...
11. Materialist Philanthropy
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How do we assay giving? Is its magnitude directly correlated with the amount of money that changes hands between giver and receiver? Is our capacity to give directly correlated with the amount of wealth we possess? When we talk about the most generous people of our own day, ...
12. Whoever Has Will Receive More
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Generosity is good for us as well as for those we are trying to help. First, generosity helps us to realize that we can live quite happily without being rich. Some of the richest people I have known seemed to spend most of their time thinking about how to accumulate more wealth. ...
13. Hoarding and Sharing
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Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18 each tell essentially the same story. Jesus is approached by a rich young man who asks him what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds that he should keep the commandments, sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, and then come and follow him. ...
14. Lessons from the Least
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Some of us prefer to avoid people with disabilities. When we see a man or a woman whose twisted posture, slurred speech, or shuddering gait suggests mental retardation or cerebral palsy, our impulse is to turn the other way. There is something about deformity that makes many of us wince, like hearing a beloved musical composition played off key. ...
15. Lower and Higher
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What is the world made of? Various ancient philosophers such as Anaximines and Thales posited a single substance, such as water, air, fire, or earth. Some of their successors, including Aristotle, argued that the world is made up of multiple such elements. More recently, we have expanded this list even further, ...
16. Who Is Expendable?
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In his 2000 book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, Mark Bowden offers a riveting account of a U.S. combat operation that took place in the nation of Somalia in 1993. The operation was intended to capture the lieutenants of a Somali warlord, but it went disastrously awry when U.S. helicopters were downed by rocket fire. ...
17. How Much and How Well?
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One of the best-known stories about giving in the New Testament concerns the poor widow and her two coins (Luke 21:1–4). Jesus was teaching in the temple. He saw crowds of people walking by, dropping their offerings into the collection box. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. ...
18. Are We Hospitable?
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Numerous terms of derision might have been applied— unkempt, grungy, disheveled. The family came from an economically depressed region in the southern part of the state. The parents were unemployed, and neither they nor their child looked as though they had changed clothes or bathed in a week. ...
19. Rules and Aspirations
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Since its founding, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has been dedicated to the proposition that the natural academic home for philanthropic studies is a school of liberal arts. The curricula of most of the several hundred philanthropy programs around the United States are grounded in fundraising and non-profit management. ...
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Natalie was fifteen years old when she died. Numerous photographs before she fell ill show a somewhat short, slightly stout teenager whose toothy smile exudes great enthusiasm. Natalie was a natural leader who played on her high school’s softball and volleyball teams and participated enthusiastically in her local 4-H chapter. ...
21. Treasure in Earthen Vessels
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The circumstances of my first encounter with the family seemed unremarkable. A colleague of mine approached me to assist in placing a patient’s gastrojejunostomy tube. Such a tube enters the stomach through a hole in the skin of the abdomen. It enables liquid food, medications, and water to be infused directly into the intestines, ...
22. Ethics and Metaphysics
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Ultimately, our understanding of generosity reflects our understanding of the world we inhabit. If we think the world is a harsh, stingy, and unforgiving place, then we are likely to find ourselves operating from a mentality of scarcity. Those of us whose biological worldview is grounded in winner-take-all competition ...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies