Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Strong and Hardy

So, what is fair? If your oldest does something special, something that truly is outside her norm and is great can you reward her for it if your youngest does that same thing all the time? If your second oldest always gets A's and B's in her classes but your oldest struggles to maintain a C average, is it fair to reward her for getting all B's?

Nature is a cold, calculated world that rewards strength and punishes the weak. The laws of Darwin hold strong to this premise. Survival of the fittest, or more appropriately, survival of those who change to meet the demands of the environment, is the rule of the world. Humankind bucks that rule.

The strongest among us are apt to help the weak. We see the value that even the weakest among us have to offer. Why is this so? Why do we consider the benefits to society the weakest have to offer? Greater humanity rises above the baseness of humankind to move beyond self. This is why civilizations work.

What is the honest difference between the greater humanity and the baseness that can be humankind? Do we truly value those who have made the effort to break free from the bonds of selfishness? It is certainly human nature to be more engrossed in the details of life that pertain to or are most interesting to self. At a quick glance through history, recognizing those who have lived their lives in one ambitious endeavor to promote self is easy. Even if we limited our attention to those who were the most successful, the list would be extremely long. Rockefeller, Carnegie, and now, Gates, are examples of extremely successful powerhouses who after a life of waltzing over the top of others, gaining extreme success in the business world at the expense of others, turn to a more fulfilling existence of philanthropy.

Each of these men, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and William Henry Gates III were/are considered giants, building significant enterprises. They were ruthless in business. That ruthlessness led to vast dynasties. The former two are more notably remembered for philanthropic endowments. Bill Gates, on the other hand, is just beginning on his philanthropic life. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world, was established in 2000. Bill Gates announced on June 15, 2006, that he would move to a part-time role within Microsoft, leaving day-to-day operations management in July 2008 to begin a full-time career in philanthropy, but would remain as chairman and advisor.

So, why? Why do these giants of the business world, after decades of brutal, cold business decisions devote their lives to charity?

“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.” ~ Albert Einstein

Darwin, as far as humankind is concerned, you're wrong!
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