Been thinking recently about the world’s natural resources and our role – individually and collectively – as stewards of the natural world. So many issues – and, at the same time, so many opportunities for those who are philanthropically inclined to make a real difference – both domestically and around the world – that can last for generations.
We – especially we in America – have long held the belief that our natural resources are limitless. Indeed, our habits of consumption over the years have reflected this mindset. Even as others in the world have had to use restraint to preserve valuable life-giving resources, we’ve been reticent to do so. And, our resources in America show the scars of our living large. The notion of an American Way of Life immutable to the reality that we all share one planet and its resources is quite at odds with the view perhaps best captured by Thomas Friedman in his book about a ‘Hot Flat & Crowded World.’
A look back into the 18th Century finds a letter written in 1787 by Thomas Jefferson to his friend, James Madison. In it, Jefferson pointed out, “Nature has favored our country.” Who wouldn’t agree with his assessment? Perhaps, it’s time to honor such a sentiment by challenging ourselves to return the favor. Imagine all the people in all our communities across the country embracing the idea of changing behaviors and adopting new – good – habits that can help preserve the resources with which Nature has favored us.
And, as for the role of philanthropy? Well, opportunities abound with charitable organizations at work in your local community, regionally, and around the world for caring individuals to invest private philanthropic funds to seed new initiatives, support large scale recycling efforts, figure out ways to cut consumption of electricity, reduce water waste, and move about without always using cars and other personal vehicles, and ensure clean healthy water supplies.
It’s not just Carlos Santana who believes “This can’t go on… We got to change our ways.” Indeed, there are ways all of us can take on this work – as donors and as volunteers. It’s time. The time certainly seems to be upon us to act – to give money, give time, give new habits a try. If you’re interested in learning about where to turn to get involved as a donor or volunteer, please contact me.