The concept of philanthropy is one of the great virtues of Christianity. The good Samaritan showed love to an unknown wounded man, and Jesus Christ himself urged Christians to share their possessions with those in need. Nowadays, in fact, this concept has acquired even greater importance. Wars – with the latest war in Ukraine – and the ensuing refugee issue, as well as the natural disasters affecting thousands of our fellow human beings, make philanthropy a global necessity.
And indeed many people are accustomed to offering financial help whenever they receive a stimulus mainly through social media or television, feeling that in this way they are doing their duty to their fellow man. And they do, because even the slightest help can be a lifesaver for someone else.
But really, does philanthropy only have to do with a stranger we see on the street or with a contribution to a non-profit organization?
Indeed, the term ‘philanthropy’ means the selfless offering to the fellow human being who is in need of something that he cannot obtain himself.
And most of us have identified the concept of philanthropy with the provision of money or material goods to the needy.
At its core, however, philanthropy does not stop at the self-evident level of financial assistance to others, sometimes more and sometimes less close. It goes to deeper levels, it spreads to all the people around us, even to those in our immediate family circle.
Because philanthropy is related to empathy, to the ability to perceive the need for help conveyed by others and to perceive it not as a weakness or as a result of past mistakes, but as a human condition in which everyone can find themselves. Behind every hand of substantial help we offer is the awareness that at some other time in life, in some other area, someone else known or unknown helped us, without compensation – helped us get what we needed most.
That is why the essential philanthropist can and should be a philanthropist with generosity towards the mistakes of others, to contribute generous forgiveness.
He can be philanthropic in words of love, understanding, and support, when his relative or friend is experiencing a difficult time in his life.
At work, he can offer help to his new colleague or to anyone who is having a hard time, to share his knowledge about what he is most proficient with, to help his work environment become a place of joy and progress.
Even within the family one can treat one’s partner with philanthropy and contribute, without selfishness and criticism, a helping hand, a hug of understanding, when he has problems at work, when he has made mistakes, when he feels alone and helpless.
The true philanthropist seeks the good even where everything looks bad and he understands human pain even when it is covered behind the mask of arrogance, selfishness, provocation. He is able to justify the mistakes and omissions of others, but also of himself, because he is fully aware that no one can escape from them. As he knows very well that in any relationship he who is strong in one field can at any time become the one who is in need of someone else and vice versa.
That’s why philanthropy that includes love, kindness, understanding, support, and help is just as important as offering financial help, perhaps sometimes even more important, if we realize that we can offer it generously to everyone.
Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional Life Coach, ICF ACC, Certified Heartmath Coach/Mentor and Trainer, and Certified Points of You Practitioner.