Investing in Life
Recently someone replied to me that government should not be in the business of helping people. That is a most interesting comment. If government is NOT in the business of helping people, then why is it in business at all? Why does it exist at all? Government does not exist to complicate lives nor to be a powerhouse of rules. Certainly there is enough need to utilize all available help, regardless of where it comes from and/or to whom it is sent.
There is an old saying: “Put your money where your mouth is”. There is an old scripture that says “Where your heart is, so will be your fortune.” George Soros is an example of both. Born in Hungary, he survived the Nazi invasion and World War II. He escaped the Communist-led regime in the later 1940’s and found his way to England where he graduated from the London School of Economics. He then made his way to New York City and began his life as a financier.
George Soros was listed in 2012 as the twenty-second richest man in the world. However he did not simply make money and then live lavishly. He also shared his wealth. In fact, a list of charities and causes his foundation supports can take up to five hundred pages when printed out.
As a student in London, Soros read a book that has influenced his humanitarian efforts. Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” explores the philosophy of science and is considered a critique of totalitarianism as seen by Popper. What Soros took from the book is that no ideology owns the truth, and societies can flourish only when they operate freely and openly and maintain respect for individual rights.
Soros has benefited from some trade transactions that greatly hurt others and his critics are many. Is he simply very good at his job or does he profit while thousands of other traders perish? Soros maintains he simply sees trends in the market and acts accordingly. It cannot be disputed that while he trades heavily on futures and marketplace trends, making calls that others fail to see, he also invests in mankind. Over two years ago the International Rescue Committee, first formed to help Jewish people during World War II awarded its Freedom award to George Soros, describing him as a “democracy and human rights supporter, philanthropist, and businessman”.
In his acceptance speech, Soros discussed the crisis of humanity in Syria. “Right now we are witnessing a major unresolved humanitarian crisis in Syria,” he said. “People are starving. Soon they will be freezing, children are malnourished and the first cases of actual starvation have been observed.” Today the world is struggling to deal with this crisis as the flood of Syrian refugees washes into every country in Europe. Strict rules have been imposed in many countries and ongoing debates are held in the United States with many state governors refusing any Syrians in their states. While many are wallowing in the fear, Soros has acted. In 2013 at his awards banquet he pledged over one million dollars “to encourage the IRC to step up its efforts with the dual aim of activating global public opinion and mobilizing a meaningful response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.” To date Soros has donated over one billion dollars to humanitarian causes.
So what can the average person struggling to make ends meet do to help such causes? First, act with your heart and your brain instead of running on fear. Fear can be a good response when used appropriately. Fear is what keeps us from driving our cars off cliffs or trying to kiss a rattlesnake. However, when we allow fear to blind our vision, then we fall victim ourselves.
We should not allow the exaggerated rhetoric of the greedy determine our own responses to our fellow beings in need. We need to ask ourselves how we can help intelligently. Perhaps Soros is not a saint; few of us are. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker once described him thusly: “George Soros has made his mark as an enormously successful speculator, wise enough to largely withdraw when still way ahead of the game. The bulk of his enormous winnings is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become “open societies”, open not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but—more important—tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.”
Investing in people is investing in our future. We can do that by supporting local agencies and programs that help others. The International Red Cross is a worldwide organization that operates on donations and helps all in times of personal and global crisis. By donating money but also food and clothing, each of us can assist those in need, refugees from their countries and lives in crisis. There are countless other programs like Good will Industries, the Salvation Army, that assist people in need.
We can all invest in another being and by doing so, we invest in our own future. When government provides for the people, then the people are in a better position to provide for themselves and others. Imagine a world in which people invested in each other instead of their stock portfolios. That would be a beautiful world.