Archive for the 'donation' Category

Focus on the primary goal

November 2, 2013

I get taken in by a group’s claims about what they are doing, just as, apparently, many other people do, at least in the contexts of charitable giving and health insurance.  In the latter two situations, we as an even larger group are willing to talk about a norm that requires a certain percent of the money taken in from donations or premiums to go to charitable works or health care, and not be diverted to the more private benefit of those administering the enterprises.  We can see that money diverted for salaries or travel is not going to building schools or paying providers.

I think we see that less well in other contexts.  I think group formation is so important to most of us that we don’t even realize when we are putting our need for exclusive social ties and positive emotional reinforcement above the purported goal of the group, its reason for existing.  I see that in the context of government, I see that in the context of the media.  “Insiders/outsiders” becomes the paramount driving force of behavior (which, of course, is a very dualistic way of seeing things).

Now, of course, some amount of social cohesion is necessary for a group if it is to persist and be able to continue in its work at all.  But that’s also true in the charity and insurance cases:  some amount of administrative expense is needed and appropriate.  It’s when that gets out of balance that we call foul, and I think we don’t even see the fouls in groups we are less suspicious about or in forms that are more difficult to see.

What I see often when a group is not meeting its goals is that they are pouring too much of their collective energy into strengthening their personal ties and benefits (could be benefits to their careers or social status or sense of self-worth and not to their bank accounts) and not enough into the goal of the organization, like governing on behalf of the common good or publishing on behalf of the audience.

Well, they can do that, it’s their choice, and maybe it serves a need that is more important in some way than the avowed, wider and more public goal of the group, in the great scheme of things.  Maybe their development as human beings is more important, maybe they need to go through this kind of behavior in order to learn something, maybe our world is more like a classroom.

We can damage the environment.  We can damage the economy.  We can cause a lot of damage for a lot of selfish reasons, including reasons driving us of which we are unaware.  We can have insufficient willingness to put our own benefit aside and see what serves.  I think people with more understanding than I, like Socrates and Jesus, got too caught up in trying to change people and keep them from this dynamic.  I think that narrowed their own options.  I think sometimes the better option is detachment.  If people want to soil their nests, and it’s the best they can do, maybe, in fact, that’s what serves the greatest good and all we can do is watch at this point.

There is a concept of attracting people to a new approach to life rather than recruiting them to it.  That orientation, among other things, assures that the people are ready and willing when they come to it.  Spending time on unwilling people is not helpful, and when we do, our own energy is diverted in just the same way as it is in the cases I mentioned earlier — it goes for someone’s personal pleasure, and that just doesn’t serve the greater good, their greater good, or mine, from what I can see.

Mail, unbidden and missing

January 8, 2013

So I finished a personal care product this morning, threw the container into the trash, and, unbidden, a sample of the same product (different brand) arrived in today’s mail later in the day.  Nice timing.

On the other hand, I made a sizable (for me) charitable donation last year, and the recipient organization (which is located in the next town) says they have sent me a confirmation letter twice, and neither have I received.

Years ago I donated some goods to an organization down the street, for a charitable auction, and they never got the paperwork to me, and I remember clearly understanding that it wasn’t meant to be a tax deduction.  They were items (a quilt and some other handmade textiles) that meant something to me, and there was something in the act that would have been diminished through the coldness of introducing tax considerations.

This time around, it was a cash donation.  But maybe it is not meant to be entangled in tax considerations nonetheless.

In both cases I had had some prior involvement with the organization and felt I had received some benefit from it and wanted to make sure they could continue to do what they do and benefit others.  So maybe in that context, charitable tax deductions have no place.  I sometimes feel that I have a special need to keep my books in balance between my benefiting from this world and my contributing to it;  maybe the way these donations play out has a lot to do with that — the universe is helping me keep my books when on my own I wouldn’t be squaring the entries right.

“No, thank you”

December 21, 2011

When people who are fund-raising call, I generally respond with, “No, thank you.”  Sometimes I ask for a mailing, sometimes I explain the person they are calling for has died, so there are other responses, but generally I say “No, thank you.”

Of course, this response makes no literal sense, unless you take the point of view that they are offering me a chance to do something positive for the world and myself, and I am declining the golden opportunity.  But, I think, generally the understanding is that they are asking me to do something for them and I’m saying no.

I was thinking of this in the context of the idea with some current cachet about showing tax payers who want particular government programs the bill for them in terms of what it costs in taxes to sustain those programs.  It’s no different with exchanges between people, though less tangible.  People want our love and energy as they have come to expect them, and for their personal use.  If and when we show them the bill, what is has cost us, they say, “No thank you” to the idea they might pay for what they’ve gotten and want to continue to receive.  In fact, sometimes they do worse, mistreating the messenger, trying to pay with counterfeit, offering another I.O.U., denying the impact on the payor of what has been payed to them by expecting the depleted payor to still have resources for a new project.

What to do?  Think of what was entered into as a loan as a gift, in other words write off the bad debt, and move on wiser.  The part I’m stuck on is when the other person wants me to say it’s okay.  For me, it’s okay if I have it from God and the universe that it is, not on the say-so, imbedded in the request, of some other person.

I sometimes think some people refuse to make their own spiritual progress for fear that with a new perspective, they will see their bills too clearly.