- Wed, June 02 2010
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
I always disliked the question: Are people bad because they want to feel good about giving? Is it selfish to give because you want to experience certain things in your act of charity? Shouldn’t giving be “selfless?”
This question drastically misses the point about giving. Frankly, I think as humans we do not have the capacity to be purely selfless - we are not wired to be in that state where we are outside of self entirely. But the opposite of selfless isn’t selfish - it is rather our natural state of seeking connection to others in a state of empathy. This leads us to want to help others and that helping (which is a connection) feels good because we need it as humans.
This is elegantly explained in this MUST-WATCH video that Sean Stannard-Stockton recently highlighted on his blog. It is from “bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet” Jeremy Rifkin, who explains the concept of “selfhood” and the growing empathetic drive over the course of human history.
As Rifkin says, “We are soft wired to experience another’s plight as if it were our own… The first drive is to belong.” That is a good thing. As Rifkin says, we need to do all we can to let our natural empathic sociability thrive until it extends to all people. It is fundamentally human. It’s what makes a civilization and a society. And it’s the only real path to global, social change.
Watch it! And remember your most important job - helping people feel empathy and connection.