In 1698, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather said the following to his congregation: “Instead of exhorting you to augment your charity, I will rather utter an exhortation . . . that you may not abuse your charity by misapplying it.” He added, “Let us try to do good with as much application of mind as wicked men employ in doing evil.”
It is always interesting to see how quickly individuals will respond to emotional appeals to give even when there are no mechanisms in place for accountability and no thought to long-term impact or sustainability. It is common and easy enough to engage in non-sacrificial philanthropic acts that provide a balm for our consciences and leaves our deep commitment to consumerism and individual self-interest untouched. In his book titled, The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky reminds us that today “virtually everyone is pro-philanthropy”.
It is also amazing just how quickly and generously people will give to causes that generate excitement and what we may call “feel-goodism.” It is time for us to become “thinking philanthropists”. As Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Are you a thinking philanthropist? Are we using enough "application of mind" as we do good in society or are our actions motivated and directed primarily through our emotions?
We are always on the lookout for strategic, thinking individuals who see the need for a new approach to helping in Jamaica and in developing countries across the world. Keith Suter laments in his book on globalization: “People can be very stubborn. They prefer to stick with old paradigms that are in trouble, rather than seek better ones.” We desperately need a new paradigm for engaging and this paradigm must take into account the need for personal discipline, faithfulness, and integrity, as well as the reality of an ever-changing world that our nation must confront if we want to engage sensibly in a discussion on transformation.