In his TedTalk titled “The way we think about charity is dead wrong,” Dan Pallotta made a statement which inspired me to deeply question something about us humans. His talk was about the issue of how society views charitable and philanthropic work, in relation to how the normal business world works.
He said, “You know, you want to make 50 million dollars selling violent video games to kids, go for it. We’ll put you on the cover of Wired magazine. But you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids of malaria, and you’re considered a parasite yourself.”
That statement begs the question: What do we as human beings value most? How do we measure what we as a society value, and what does that show about the current state of health of our society?
One of the most obvious ways we show value is the way we use our money. The United States is the wealthiest nation on earth (even if many of us don’t feel wealthy). This also means that we have the opportunity to be the most generous to those with less than we have, to lift others out of poverty and needless suffering. So, how highly do we value the opportunity we have to help others?
Why is it that people in the entertainment industry; the creators and actors of movies, pop stars and video games can reap billions of dollars in revenues, but raising $10,000 to build a water well for a village in Africa who currently lack life’s most vital resource isn’t something many of us think of purchasing?
What do we value? Do we value being entertained over helping others? I certainly enjoy movies, music and other forms of art; but when art becomes an escape from the reality of the great mission we have to love one another, I think it is time we question and reflect upon how we are spending our lives.
Are we working a job we don’t like in order to pay the bills and thus; come home to turn on our gadgets and escape until we must wake and return to work in the morning? Are we finding a sense of mission in our hearts for what we want to do in life that releases a sense of joy? That kind of joy, I propose, comes from serving others.
Less than 1% of the United States Federal Budget goes to foreign aid. Certainly, we can debate and discuss how that aid is being used and if it is having an impact on people who are suffering in others countries due to poverty and corruption. We can also talk about poverty within the United States and how easily we could end it. However, I think that what this statistic shows is the value we as a nation place on helping those in greatest need.
My challenge: Let’s look deeply within ourselves and ask ourselves what we value most. How are we showing value to others?