“Apart from the ballot box, philanthropy presents the one opportunity the individual has to express their meaningful choice over the direction in which our society will progress”
George K Kirstein
There is nothing I can do about it now. I voted. The election is over and now I sit back and wait to see where the leaders take the country, until the next election in three years when they ask my opinion again. I have this tiny moment in time to add my voice to the millions of others, and if most people agree then we might get somewhere. It’s hard to see what kind of impact I really have though. One vote in millions doesn’t seem to carry any weight at all, so why bother? I am sure that I’m not the only one who has thought that too because in my electorate alone, the informal votes ranked higher than a number of the candidates. That means that more people didn’t fill out their ballot paper correctly than those who voted for some candidates on purpose. The Australian Electoral Commissions suggests that 5% of all votes are informal and can’t be officially counted.
It’s easy to see how people can end up there. And it’s easy to see how people can disengage from community life thinking that they are unable to change anything, so why bother.
But that’s not true. The impact an individual can have on our world is huge, and we don’t have to wait for an election to be called to do it. Every day we have money within our control and what we do with it creates the society we live in. The organisations we give to shift our culture. When we give money to charities it shows politicians what people actually care about, not what they say they care about. Money moves our culture. Money moves our values. Money is a tool we can use to create the society we want. We get to choose what we do with it. So, give generously to organisations as a vote to create the world you want.
Too much of a good thing can still ruin your day. My wife made the most amazing pasta the other night. It is one of my favourite meals and I ate a significant amount of it. Even as I was still eating I said,
“I have eaten too much”
Then I continued to shovel pasta into my mouth.
It was amazing. Until it wasn’t. And later, it wasn’t amazing at all when I felt ill. I ruined a good thing by overdoing it.
We are lucky with food though, because most of the time we know when we have had enough, and we can stop eating and enjoy what we have consumed.
There are other things in life that don’t give you that signal that you have had enough. Money is the main one. How much is enough? Do you have an answer to that question? Or are you just working for more?
It’s something that most of us just drift into. The process of desiring more and more money so that we will have enough to buy that house, pay off the house, buy that car, go on that holiday, buy that other house. It becomes a never ending cycle. We would be wise to make a conscious decision of when enough will be enough. How much do we actually need, and then what do we do with the excess (giving some of it away is always a good idea). It’s such an important process because if we are unable to figure out what our enough is, then we are at the whim of the mighty dollar, which is a very scary place to be.
You will never be happy when enough isn’t. – Seneca
It was one of dozens of similar conversations. But something finally broke with this one.
I sat down across the table from a financial planner, and they began to tell me how many millions of dollars their firm managed and all of a sudden I realised, I didn’t care. I didn’t. I had no interested in their millions of dollars and how much money they were making for their clients. In that moment I discovered that I wasn’t motivated by that at all, which was a bit of a shame because I was working for a bank at the time and my job was to encourage financial planners to put their clients’ money into the banks products. I knew I was in trouble.
It was that moment I began to search for my purpose, something that I could get excited about, something that motivated me. It led me through a journey of community radio, Bible College, youth work, international development work and a master’s degree. I always say that my life has been a weird concoction of career snippets that have somehow managed to feed into each other and create the place where I want to be. Ending poverty, one family and one community at a time. Facilitating generosity to bring about significant change. I’m so glad I had that realisation many years ago and walked away from the banking world.
Not that there’s anything wrong with making millions of dollars for your clients, just as long as you give lots of it away and do something significant with it.