Thursday, August 9, 2012

Existing for the sake of others

In his farewell speech to the Board of Coastal Community Foundation in 1983, Malcom Haven said with pride: “I have been involved in the ever-growing force of individual initiative directed to helping a community solve the problems inherent in any community worth living in.” It’s a cool way to think about your life and your community. If it is worth living in, it is worth improving.

In Mal’s speech he quoted The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (written in the 2nd Century): “Men exist for the sake of others.” Left unsaid was what Marcus Aurelius also taught. Life is a struggle. There is no shame in that. You need to look after yourself. Do not be ashamed of that either. Rather than being surprised and set back by the needs of your selfish self, direct whatever time is left to improving your community. In today’s lingo that would be “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others” something we hear in prayerful tones on every commercial airplane flight.
This is heady stuff. Not only would it have been cool to live in a time where Board meetings had quotes from Roman emperors interspersed in the minutes (and the readers knew the context and broader meaning of the citations) it is cool to think that is it okay to be human. We do not need to be entirely selfless to be selfless philanthropists.

Help us find the next Malcom Haven. With your help the Haven Award will be bestowed on a Lowcountry resident who demonstrates selfless community giving. You need not be a saint to apply. Even the un-saintly can nominate. The details are on our website.    
Marcus Aurelius is also known for saying “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” I think he and Mal Haven would grant me the poetic license to say “Our community is what our awards and public recognition make it.”

Join with us in improving our community by recognizing those who inspire us by their long-term dedication to existing for the sake of others.

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