What if we all decided there was more to living than accumulation; that it was more noble to share than hoard? What if the rat race faded in importance and as a united force we acted to ensure basic human needs were met worldwide? What if we got collectively tired of getting more and decided instead to give more?
It seems like that may be happening right under our noses. Have you noticed?
I read a great article the other day from Fast Company. Like most things I read from that magazine, it was equal parts educational and inspiring. The link is obviously there for your enjoyment. If you’re too lazy to click on it, here’s the jist:
Materialism as a philosophy and lifestyle peaked during the 1980s and 90s. Nowadays, people are more about the experience than they are the possessions. Driving this shift is social media, which basically serves as an instant, ongoing autobiography of every person alive. So we may still be narcissistic, but it manifests itself through self-documentation more so than self-indulgence. A minor improvement.
The notion that generosity is growing in popularity is evidenced by a few facts.
The Ultra-Wealthy Are Committed to Philanthropy
The Giving Pledge has gathered 122 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families who have pledged to give away at least half their dynastic wealth in their lifetime or in their will. Rich people have always been generous, but this is different. They all simply agree that their excess is more useful to someone else than themselves. They have the mansions and the cars and the vacations and the toys. And then some. They are committed to giving the “then some” to people who need it more than they do.
Sure, they are richer than most. But don’t we all have some “then some?”
It’s Easier Than Ever to Give
Google “charity” and you’ll fetch over 96 million results. Anybody with a credit card or a cell phone can give online, by text, or even by purchasing other products that are tied to a cause.
Since launching The 25 Group January, we’ve seen that people are cool with giving–you just have to make it easy. We collect money in three ways–substantial one time gifts from individuals and companies who have significant resources to share, $25/month gifts from folks who want to be an ongoing part of what we do, and through our #giveblitz campaigns. Those are days where we ask the masses to give just one dollar to our nonprofit. Our first one was a great beta test, and we’re looking forward to doing it again on February 25th.
Seriously, it’s easy to give. Everybody’s doing it these days.
Affluenza & Stuffocation
Lastly, I think the reason generosity is on the rise is because we’re sick and tired of being selfish, materialistic people. We are arguably the most prosperous people in history. What was once thought as an incurable case of affluenza (to borrow a term) had led us to near-death by stuffocation (to borrow another). Is it possible that the more wealthy a society is the more unhappy it becomes? It seems so. There’s never been a grumpier, more crotchety, collectively disagreeable America than there is today.
And we’ve never had more than we do.
The answer being offered by so many is to turn from our idols of self and stuff and turn instead to sacrifice, generosity, and transformation. Anyone who’s had the experience of walking down a dusty street in a third world country, granting a piggy back ride to an inner-city youth, or hugging a teary-eyed single mother struggling to make ends meet knows that life is about way more than building our own Kingdoms.
We were kidding ourselves for decades, building the American dream on the basis of bulging wallets and indulgent lifestyles. But we’re wising up as a nation. The epidemic of materialism has found it’s antidote, and it’s being injected into human hearts all over this great country. It is concern for our fellow human being, living a life that matters, and leaving a legacy of kindness in our wake.
There may just be hope for us yet.
If you agree that materialism is on the way out, and are looking for an outlet for your own generosity, feel free to become a part of the growing number of people making a big impact by giving a little. Donate to The 25 Group as we seek to help the hungry, thirsty, naked, unwelcome, imprisoned, and sick in our own country and around the world.