Why don't you give?
"Why don't you give?" I ask. And the responses come back: "I don't have the time." "I don't have the money." "I don't think it will work." "I'm not interested." "I give to other things." In all my years of fundraising, I have heard every excuse imaginable. This is America--so nobody is forced to give to any cause or project; yet giving voluntarily and freely is a unique American tradition.
The journey to raise money for projects back home in southwest Nebraska, Dundy County, and in hometown Haigler has been an interesting one. Many have made the time to give; donated what dollars they could; and donated treasures for the museums and The Cornerstone Center. Our tri-state area of Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas has been supportive of a variety of activities and projects. Many have said, "Let's make it work." "Count me in; I want to help." "I give to other things--but I owe it to my community to help on this project, too." And so things happen, and our rural community stays alive. Thank goodness for these optimists who are willing to give.
But it is the pessimists and their negative attitudes that have prompted me to write this article. Perhaps I will 'step on a few toes' and 'ruffle a few feathers'--but that's okay--I'll take that risk. Don't we all live and work in the same community? Don't each of us have an obligation to put back into our community at least the equivalent of what we take from our community? What kind of an example for our young people are you when asked to give--and you don't give? There are those in our community who find it convenient to 'turn their backs' when asked to give. There are those in our community called 'leaders' who should be among the first to step up and show their support for all community projects; but many do not. There are those in our community who have the means to give, but do not. Every dollar makes a difference. It doesn't have to be a $30 billion pledge like Warren Buffet to the Gates Foundation--just a show of support would be appreciated. Then there are those who pledge to give, but are never heard from again. There are those in our community who choose to winter vacation, buy new vehicles, and/or dine out often; but when asked to give say "No" or never respond at all. Why? Is it the gossip they listen to? Is it mistrust of others? Do they just really not care about their community? Would they rather see pieces of their community crumble? I believe what John Ruskin once said, "We are only the trustees of any wealth we possess. Without the community and its resources, there would be little wealth for anyone." We all need help at times, and when we support each other; we all become stronger."
'Philanthropy'--defined as 'the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of mankind, as by charitable aid or donation.' There are many quotes associated with this topic; but I present here just a few--as 'food for thought.' "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) "Life's persistent and most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" (Martin Luther King Jr.) "Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back." (Anthony Robbins) "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others remains and is immortal." (Albert Pike) "The unique power bestowed on each individual to give, do good, and even change the course of events is quite often underestimated." (unknown)
Many things have happened in my 70+ years of living that have had an impact and made a difference in the way I lived my life. A reading long ago by George Bernard Shaw became my mantra. "I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community. And, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die; for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch, which I have got hold of for a short moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations." In more recent years, a poem entitled 'The Dash' by Linda Ellis literally stopped me in my tracks when I read it. The dash refers to that dash on the tombstones we all see in our cemeteries--the dates from our beginning to our end--and what happens between those years. The poem ends like this: "So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash; would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?" The Dash is about making a difference in the lives of others--not what we achieve for ourselves. We can choose positive over negative, smiles over frowns, and giving over taking.
This article began with the question, "Why don't you give?" When I am asked to give, my answer will be "Yes!" When you are asked to give--what will your answer be?
LaNeta L. Carlock