"It’s a real mistake to think that philanthropy has to be pure. It’s not pure – I can tell you that from having worked on all sides of the equation from start-up social enterprises to large organizations to big foundations to small foundations to individual philanthropists to work with families. But the fact that you have multiple motives doesn’t at all mean that you don’t also have a real heartfelt desire to make a difference. And if you treat philanthropy as something that we only do for pure motives to give something back to society, then you’re limiting the potential impact of it.
Sometimes people get embarrassed about being self-interested about philanthropy, but to me there’s no right or wrong motivation, so long as you get there; that’s what really matters. I think one might even argue that if your giving is in your self-interest, then you’re going to give more and be more effective with it than someone who’s just doing it because he or she has a general desire to give back to society, or because they want to be recognized in the community. Those are very honorable motivations; they truly are. But sometimes there can be other much more pragmatic motivations, if you will, and that is good, too. The best of us are altruistic only a small part of the time; most of our time and energy focuses on things that somehow benefit ourselves. If we hope to harness the full potential that family companies bring as an engine for change, then we must be clear about the benefits that giving brings to people beyond the psychic rewards. It’s far better, and more sustainable, to acknowledge our interests rather than to give only when a feeling of altruism sweeps over us.”
“I think people misunderstand, sometimes, the difference between “empathy” and “sympathy”, and this is getting us in trouble. Sympathy is closer to pity. Empathy, which is essential for being human, means that you can imagine yourself in some else’s situation, good or bad. And feeling *real* empathy, even empathy with “the enemy”, with the bottom of the barrel of humanity, with the suicide bombers, with the child molesters, with the Hitlers and the Osamas, is necessary. If you, as a human being, can’t stop and try to imagine what sort of pain and agony and darkness must have descended upon these people to twist them up so badly, you have no roadmap to untwist the circumstances under which they were created. … There can be no limit to empathy. … If you can’t go the final mile, you’re not there yet.”—
The Washington Post reports that nearly 170,000 Somalis have fled to packed refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia since January. In Kenya, about 1,300 people are arriving daily, while an average of 1,700 enter Ethiopia. Most are arriving after grueling journeys along what officials call the “roads of death.”
Somalis have endured two decades of civil war and two consecutive seasons of failed rains. Now, after their livestock and crops have died, and with their babies suffering from malnutrition and food prices skyrocketing, many are arriving at the refugee camps after having abandoned any hope of surviving on their own.
Even worse, any hope of the world helping them is also fading, and it has a lot to do with Al-Shabab, the militia linked to al-Qaida that rules large parts of southern Somalia. Leaders have barred international aid agencies from delivering assistance to regions they control and have heavily taxed ordinary Somalis on food and other goods, exacerbating the crisis. In fact, the militia won’t even admit that a famine is taking place, disputing the U.N.’s reports that tens of thousands of Somalis, mostly children, have died because of it. In reality, the unconscionable position of Al-Shabab is just as undeniable as the crisis itself.