“From Philanthro-me to Philanthro-we”
I developed a theory a few months back. It still needs some work, but the bones of it are solid. It builds upon the common theme of our life cycle as a journey of discovering our most authentic self. It includes Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but takes it a bit further. Through this lens, I saw philanthropy as an essential, inevitable step in the evolution of humanity.
To be clear, I see philanthropy as being different from charity, though there are times that the two go hand-in-hand. Charity is focused more on addressing the symptoms of dis-ease and devastation, whereas philanthropy aims to address the underlying cause leading to dis-ease and devastation.
When we nourish the fundamental heartache of humanity, we nourish ourselves as well. We give self-fully, because we have tapped into the inherent fulfillment which is our birthright. We are grateful for any opportunity to share that wealth, not simply because it feels good to share, but because it aligns with the fullest possible expression of ourselves, and that alignment feels good. On the other side of that experience, we may look deeply into the heart of the situation to which we have given aide and see our own self looking back. It is the ultimate form of intimacy: the circle completes itself.
As I look around this life, I see clearly how low the bar for humanity is currently set. Growing up in a middle class life in a first world country had certainly spoiled me. The first four decades of my life were spent trying in vain to gain some sense of purpose: I couldn’t see that my very being here was inherently purposeful. In that ignorance, I both experienced and caused greatly unnecessary heartache to myself and others whom I love so deeply.
On the other side of awareness lies great responsibility, and even greater liberation. I can no longer hide beneath the veil of ignorance or fear. It is unclear to me how all of this will unfold, but I feel the inevitability of global philanthropic ventures as clearly as I feel my heart beating within my chest.
This is not simply about my evolution. This is an essential stage in the evolution of humanity. When we realize that self-actualization is not the final stage of evolution for humanity, the story shifts from philanthro-“me” to philanthro-“we”.