Optimism in Giving

The benevolent act of giving should never be stupid or naive. Instead, the act of giving should exhibit the highest form of intelligence.

I grew up in a small town, and in my youth the local Boy Scouts had a fundraiser to raise enough money to run the scouting program for many years. In one summer they raised over $250,000. It was amazing. Everyone was impressed and the scouting program looked solvent and strong for many years to come. The boys and leadership were looking forward to doing great things, until the bank account the money was deposited into was suddenly drained to zero.

Here is what happened. Because the account was controlled by the church (LDS church to be exact), the funds were pulled out of the account and sent to church headquarters in Salt Lake City. The scouting program suddenly took a nosedive and nobody wanted to help it anymore. We have seen this happen over and over, funds raised for one purpose are pilfered for another purpose.

I remember raising money as a booster for my son’s wrestling team and then seeing the money taken by the high school athletic director to then be used for the football program. The next year came around and we opened a private booster account at a local bank and ever since we have kept all funds in the same hands that raised it. This is the intelligence of proper giving.

A great philosopher once said, “liberty is the hand that adds value.” Freedom is the conservation of that value in a closed system. Every human being should memorize these two concepts, because they rest at the heart of Genuine Optimism.

The act of giving must add value and it must make sure this same value is conserved in the closed system it was intended for. Both the statist and the stupid will never understand this, and herein we have our enemy to giving intelligently.

Stupid people give but they never make sure that what they give is conserved in a closed system. They just give without being aware of the takers who get their piece of the action or all action.

The naive giver never gives with the principle of conservation. Let me explain.

I attend church every Sunday but lately I feel myself less and less enthusiastic about giving, especially tithing and other offerings. I know where the money goes and I know that I have no voice over the management of funds given. I am just supposed to assume that all is good. Meanwhile I see people in my religious community needing a down payment to get a home, roof repairs, poverty, health issues and so much more. I must admit that I do not believe in giving to these needs either, especially if the giving kills the vitality of wealth that could be used to generate more wealth. I will surely talk about this a lot.

My point is that I see the thousands in funds sent to administrators at greater and greater distances from my community concerns. This breaks both principles above, the first principle to give in order to add value and second to give with strict conservation of that value within a closed and local system.

Take a moment and look around your community. Add up all the parasites at great distances who live off the labor and wealth generated within your community. It will surely astound you. Add up all the commercial buildings, the land beneath, and many franchises, and so much more, all religious, corporate and government entities demanding their cut. More and more energy leaves the community every year, more than we know. If we produced a value that we sold at a distance and if some of the profit leaves to pay others for their materials or services to generate our value, then that is great. But what of the wealth that could be 100% ours but it is not?

Without waxing heavy in economic theory, please consider one thing. Value is created and what do we do to conserve the value within the community?

The more  value we conserve within the community, the more genuine optimism we will create in our culture. They work together. Optimism is a culture rising to surface its best self.

The picture above says something interesting. Some communities do a lot to protect land or open space, but where are the communities that choose to protect wealth, voice, and vision?

A renaissance is coming, a better way for communities and all organizations to rise up, organize better, and preserve the value they create in their own hands. It’s not selfish, it’s genuine optimism.

Keith R Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist

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