Monday, June 11, 2012

Charity: the forgotten virtue

One of the most attractive features of the Christian religion is the practice of Charity. In church, Christians are regularly encouraged to give of their time and resources for the benefit of the poor, sick, elderly, and destitute. They are not required to tithe, but many do anyway. Christian charity is a force for good in the world.

I believe that every person, Christian and non-Christian, can benefit by practicing charity. The paradox of charity is that it leaves you better off, even though it costs you.

One way charity benefits you is by improving your relationship with money. As a founder of a technology startup, my money is a subject that often stresses me out. But giving to charity helps me be grateful for the material blessings I have, instead of worrying about the things I do not have. Interacting with the truly poor gives makes me appreciate the abundance of resources at my disposal.

Recently, I've adopted the practice of giving a small portion of money away whenever I get some. I used Give Well to help me find an effective charity with a cause that touches my heart. Last month I gave about 3% of my income to a charity that provides necessities to Indian street children, and I plan to do so again. 

The desire to help people is common in Silicon Valley. But many people plan to start someday after they get rich, like Bill Gates did. Too often, that someday never comes. If you desire your life to be a force for good in the world, as I do, then why not start now? Why wait for an uncertain future? You may spend all your life consuming and hoarding for your own benefit and get hit by a bus before you can do any good for others. 

Also, by waiting to help others, you miss out on all the benefits that giving does for your peace of mind today. Contributing to charity will make you a happier, more peaceful person. And you can rest easy at night knowing that regardless of what happens, your life has already made a positive impact on the world. 

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