For four years, I’d made incessant efforts to study abroad. When I finally managed to raise the funding for it, my happiness knew no bounds. I was brimming with so much joy, I was afraid I’d be robbed of it. About the same time, my mother mentioned that our maid had trouble funding her daughter’s education. So, I decided to donate some money to her out of mere goodwill. Somehow, this deed calmed my jitters. I stopped worrying I’d be robbed of my happiness. Instead, I was glad I’d shared it.
More often than not, we tend to believe humans are innately selfish and are bound to think about themselves first. This might be true to an extent. After all, I’ve only ever given when I’ve had something in excess. Psychologist Abigail Marsh too wanted to understand this nature. In her Ted Talk Why some people are more altruistic than others, she explores the motivation behind altruism and philanthropy. She says: “As societies become wealthier and better off, people seem to turn their focus of attention outward, and as a result, all kinds of altruism towards strangers increases, from volunteering to charitable donations and even altruistic kidney donations.”
It’s not very far from the concept of Maslow’s Pyramid of Hierarchy, is it? We find the need to satisfy our most basic physical, emotional and intellectual needs first. Often, it’s only then that we move on to satisfy our spiritual needs. And what’s a better way to get to the spiritual level than to help another lead a better life? This was true of me. When my dream of studying abroad finally came true, I felt like it was my turn to give something. And so, I chose to help another girl who might one day build her own dreams and try to make them come true.
Although, not everyone needs an excess to give to the society. Take the protagonist of the novel The Book Thief, for instance. The little girl is from a German family of meagre means, living in a war-ridden Nazi-Germany. Despite the dire conditions, Liesel remains a kind and giving soul. In one instance, she hands out bread to Jewish slaves on the streets at the risk of being flogged for it by the Nazi soldiers!
Of course, not all of us can be as altruistic as Liesel. But many of us do partake in philanthropic deeds now and then. Increasingly, there are several people who donate their time, money or other valuables to brighten up the lives of those less fortunate. From animal protection to education for girls, from cancer research to autistic children’s care, there’s an array of causes people donate towards.