In a 2013 Time magazine article, columnist Joel Stein wrote that Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) differ significantly from previous generations. Research shows that they lack the empathy that gives them a particular concern for others. Now, the recent pandemic offers Millennials and others who are self-absorbed the opportunity to develop their unselfishness and restore their humanity.
When disasters have struck in the past, it has often been ordinary citizens who have responded with acts of charity. For instance, after the 1906 disastrous earthquake of San Francisco, residents sought shelter across the bay in Oakland. Dorothy Day and her family lived there, and Mrs. Day set up tents and a soup kitchen; also, they offered any spare clothing they had. In response to the 1918-1919 influenza that took many lives of U.S. citizens and new immigrants, the American Red Cross made a tremendous contribution as it provided food, medical supplies and aided influenza victims’ families with other services. Today, amid the current crisis, people can donate blood to the Red Cross and contribute to the organization’s response to the pandemic (Visit www.who.int. or call 1-800-RED-CROSS).
Becoming engaged in philanthropy during the pandemic is a very affirmative action, one which increases a person’s sense of self-worth for having helped others, as well as a greater sense of belonging in the community of man. Other lessons can be learned from being involved in philanthropy. People realize, as John Donne famously wrote, that “No man is an island/unto himself.” Citizens of the world all are part of humanity, and people need to help one another. During times of economic downturn or pandemics such as COVID 19, people also learn that generosity is needed even more because the less fortunate are dependent upon charity.
There is little doubt that focusing upon the welfare of others benefits those who are helped, as well as enriching those who give of themselves, whether it be their time, food, money, or possessions. For, in their acts of charity, people feel a sense of belonging in the world. Also, in times of crisis, people often exercise their better qualities, such as unselfishness, generosity, and concern for the betterment of their fellow citizens and their country.