Giving – Bill Clinton (2007)

In a world with extreme poverty, environmental degradation and wars of genocide and terror, it is easy to lose hope and question whether we can have any positive impact in the world. Former president Bill Clinton’s book Giving is encouraging, issuing a challenge to each of us to look for ways we can give. Regardless of our wealth, we are all blessed with the opportunity to share and give to those who are in need.

Through the retelling of numerous stories of generous givers, Clinton demonstrates that everyone has the opportunity to play a role in dealing with poverty, environmental degradation and wars of genocide and terror and encourages us to look for ways we can give. As Giving explains, there are numerous ways to do so with money, time, things, skills, and even gifts of reconciliation and new beginnings.

It is easy to question whether we have the means to give when we hear about Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet contributing such large amounts of time and money. But Clinton also shares the stories of Oseola McCarty, an eighty-seven year old woman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who gave seventy-five years worth of savings to establish a university scholarship for poor African-American girls and McKenzie Steiner, a six year-old girl who organized a drive to clean up a beach in her community. Giving demonstrates that everyone can give: children, parents, grandparents; students and teachers; employees, managers, and CEOs; neighborhood communities, local governments and national governments; churches, synagogues, and mosques; high-income, middle-income, and low-income people. It is the sum of every small gift that we can give that will impact the world, not just the large individual gifts.

Giving provides us with a jump-start in looking for ways to give to the poor and needy in our own neighborhood and around the world. As Clinton states, “In America, many of us are besieged by more requests for help than we can grant. All of us need to decide between competing claims on our time and money…. [But,] that is a choice only you can make.”

Clinton concludes by explaining that we can find happiness in giving. Knowing that our gift, no matter how small, is changing another person’s life can bring a lot of happiness. Giving is a challenge to answer to the needs of people around the world in a way that can bring true happiness.

– Nathaniel Veltman

Nathaniel Veltman (nathanielveltman.blogspot.com) is a Master of International Development student at the University of Pittsburgh. He has spent extensive time working and studying in Ghana and Malawi, Africa. His focus of study is on non-governmental organizations and civil society, with a special interest in partnerships and micro-lending in Africa.

VISIT www.culture-ish.com/giving for a list of places that we think are great places to give

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