If we are one, then we are refugeesFrom The Song “We Agree” by YES
A popular saying and common belief is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It is easy to see that in any system; be it family, business, community or nation, though there are pillars of strength, power and stability, there are those who suffer. There are people who struggle just to survive. And if we measure the overall strength of such a system using the metrics of the chain link adage, we can conclude that many systems in their entirety are lacking indeed.
The need in the United States is clear, particularly here in the Los Angeles area where the homeless population is higher than in most places, not to mention during this terrifying Covid-19 pandemic. How do I respond? How do we respond as a community? How about as a nation? Are we doing a good job at helping one another?
The 2018 Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index lists the United States as the fourth most generous country in the world, when it comes to helping our own citizens, behind Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. That surprised me. I thought that for sure we’d be way out in front. There is certainly no shortage of deserving charities to support. I think I give a lot. Could I do better? Could we all?
I look at giving the way I look at earthquake preparedness, an industry I’ve been in for many years. To me, living in Southern California makes earthquake preparedness and following the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety a no-brainer. Why? Because the probability of a large earthquake impacting my life and the region at large is so great, the benefit of doing things like securing the contents of my home is an obvious choice. In my mind, it should be an obvious choice for the millions of people who live near me as well. Yet, sadly in my mind, very few of the millions of my neighbors have taken any steps to get earthquake ready. It’s not magic, it’s math. The earthquake IS coming. Preparedness must happen.
Charitable giving and donating my time are, likewise, obvious choices. The need is huge. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank over the last couple of years, and have seen the incredible, life-saving services they provided BEFORE the pandemic. Now with the region and the world in crisis their impact in multiplied many-fold. Food banks and pantries all over the country are likewise operating at what could be called a “code-black” level, with the need far exceeding the supply. To me the need is as obvious as the upcoming earthquake. There is no doubt about it.
What are the benefit to donating time, talent and treasury?
If I go by the weakest link in the chain premise, then me giving does indeed benefit society. Raising up anyone should theoretically help everyone. That’s a good thing. But there are other, personal benefits anyone can reap from sowing seeds to generosity. I’m not talking about Karma, though I’m not discounting it. I’m not talking about loving my neighbor and things the bible teaches, though I don’t discount that to be sure. I’m talking about studies that seem to prove that giving is good for me. It’s good for you. It’s good for everyone who does it.
An article from Providence health points out that giving is good for our heart. Not only that, giving done by adolescents shows health benefits decades later. In his fantastic book “Why Good Things Happen to Good People” Dr. Stephen Post shares amazing insight into studies done that show direct cause and effect; that giving directly relates to a longer and happier life for the giver.
Not only that, Psychology Today has revealed that giving is also good for the brain. Who would have thought?
If I gave more, probably me!