As the founder of a humanitarian organization that aims to help people globally, all too often I am asked the question “why not help people closer to you?”. For a long time I defended the notion that a person is a person, and helping anyone has equally merit.
Recently I re-thought this approach of “help anyone” when I was inspired by something I saw in one of those Buzzfeed style pieces, about heartwarming stories that will restore your faith in humans. One of the stories, was a photo of a handwritten note, where after a tornado, a donor wrote on the note
“I was going to donate this to the Red Cross, but I saw you and your family out of a home. You take it instead.”
Something became abundantly clear to me then, that should have a long time ago. Altruism, although defined as selfless concern, usually does have some kind of self-impetus, and frankly, that’s a hell of a lot better than not at all. It is totally reasonably to want to put a face to what or who you are helping out.
While you can use websites like www.charitynavigator.org to determine good places to donate, I now encourage people to donate causes that are close to you, because while altruism is a great concept on the face of it semantically speaking, I think most people get the biggest drive to help from their own personal experiences.
So seek those out, perhaps a friend who needs a hand in some way, someone you see on the street, or seeking to volunteer for a cause, because it resonates with you. If that can sustain human interest in bettering than the world, we should take it. Seeing a smile back, stirs up much more warmth than a faceless thank you note for writing a check. Maybe it will make it easier to help out again.
Please leave your thoughts. Also, please check out 25 ways to help out a fellow human being, our guest post by Leo Baubata, and go ahead and do for others what will feel best for you too.