Not that I’m actively engaged in villainy at the moment, but if I were, I’d be a nervous wreck. I’m trying to give frank and useful criticism/writing advice to a friend of mine, and now that I’ve sent that advice to him, I’m anxious and nervous. As per usual, I am exaggerating the fragility of other human beings as I imagine him reading my email and crumpling to the ground, weeping and burning his manuscript to embers.
And why do I assume that every person is on the verge of utter ego collapse, so delicate that any unsavory news should be avoided or, at the very least, delivered with the softest of kid gloves? A very good question. I always ask myself very good questions. Well, I’m going to chalk this eccentricity to a fondness for dramatic resolution, coupled with a devious pessimism still lingering from my childhood. My creative little brain likes to come up with the biggest and flashiest possible scenario, and tragedy gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
Most people are resilient beasts, able to take a crushing amount of disappointment and sadness and still pick themselves up and continue on. Then again, some people fall apart when their coffee isn’t hot enough. Humanity is funny sometimes. Anyway, I hope he takes my advice with good humour and still likes me afterwards. It’s always about being liked.
Speaking of being liked, I love humanity. Yes, that does sound strange, but that is the literal meaning of ‘philanthropy’. It’s an interesting concept because it goes beyond an act of charity and more towards a way of living life. I’m just going to quote the Wikipedia article here, partly because I’m lazy, but mostly because it is how I feel:
“Put simply, philanthropy is the pursuit of excellence in every facet of human life, for every human life, by imagining and implementing new systems, to bring that philosophy to fruition.”
When we worry only about ourselves, when we close our doors to our neighbours and shut our borders to the vulnerable, we lose sight of our potential. Your profits are meaningless if your community withers around you. Anyone who tells you that you should be afraid of the “chaos lapping at our shores” is trying to manipulate you and trick you into giving up on the inherent goodness of humanity. Don’t.
This weekend, go do some good. Start small, so small that you don’t feel any inconvenience at all. I call it ‘lazy philanthropy’.