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[Opinion] The Beauty of Giving

Posted June. 30, 2003 21:54,   


In the book entitled, ‘How to leave your success as an inheritance’, Paul Meyer, an American businessman who became a millionaire at the age of 27, poses the question. ‘What will you leave behind for your offspring?’

According to the author, parents leave behind not only their material things such as money and real estate but also something intangible. These intangibles refer to habits, attitudes and wisdom children need to succeed in the world. The reason why wealth from one`s hard work doesn`t continue but diminishes in two or three generations is because only money was left behind. The main intangible inheritance he wants to leave behind is the ‘joy of giving’. Meyer, who has always donated 50% of his income states that, ‘the more that the percentage of donations from your income increases, the more happiness people have.’

Donations started out of pity but gives reasonable payment in return. The fruitfulness one feels from helping others is the joy only felt by those who have donated. ‘The virtue called charity is receiving double blessings and blessings upon both the giver and the receiver, thus is the noblest attribute among all other attributes’, once said William Shakespeare.

It is inspiring to see the gradual increase in the donation culture of our society. According to one study, it was found that three out of four adults have voluntarily donated at least once a year. It seems that we are slowly opening our eyes to the ‘joy of giving’.

News about the bereaved family of deceased president Seo Seong-hwan, the founder of Taepyungyang Group, donating 5 billion won to the ‘Beautiful Foundation’ is refreshing to hear in the midst of the chaotic labor union disputes. One can easily see the contrast between those who focus on ‘fulfilling their own needs’ and others. What a great idea to use the money to help single parent households. As the gap between the rich and the poor increases, we have reached a point where there is a necessity for support and consideration of low-income families. Like the ‘Donation Heaven’ of the United States, executive managers and their families must set an example to improve this country’s donation culture.

Our culture is originally known to have had abundant pity and tears as Koreans have endured numerous hardships and disasters throughout our long history. This is why such TV programs as ‘Love Request’ has been so successful. Likewise, there is potential for donations to dig deep in our society.

There is however, a task to be settled beforehand. Many donors do not believe that their donations will be managed and used for the manner in which they were given. Thus, morality is required from the intermediaries who connect the ‘giver’ to the ‘receivers’. When this mistrust is resolved, individual donations will surely increase and the beauty of giving such as the late president Seo`s family will take on even more meaning.

Editorialist Hong Chan-sik (chansik@donga.com)