For the past few weeks, I’ve focused on “entitlements,” mainly from the perspective of how some feel they’re entitled to something they’re not necessarily owed. Given recent events and the overall financial plight of our country, it shouldn’t take a simian with super intelligence to figure out why such thoughts were foremost in my mind. While readers of this blog might be expecting more of a business/marketing/social media slant to subjects discussed here—and those topics will return, I promise—I’ve just been finding it more and more difficult to ignore the “bigger picture” these days.
That said, this week I continue that current train of thought, albeit from a slightly different perspective: What if, instead of feeling you deserve something you aren’t owed, you actually have earned something, but don’t really need it? Should you still take it?
A simple example might be if you were to find and return a lost wallet for which someone has posted a $100 reward. You’d certainly “earned” the reward . . . but should you take it? Personally, I wouldn’t. Most likely, finding the wallet would be happenstance. And returning it? Well that’s just the right thing to do. I may sound altruistic—and I’m really not trying to—but doing a good deed would be payment enough for this King Monkey.
Now, if you’re a working stiff like me, you pay into social security every paycheck. Over a lifetime this amounts to a sizeable chunk of change that can reach tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars, certainly enough to buy a hefty bunch of bananas. The idea is for that money to be there for your golden years, when you retire; but of course it’s looking more and more likely for anyone under 50 the money won’t be there for them.
What if you’ve been fabulously successful and, come retirement age, you really don’t need that social security money you so justly earned? Would you be willing to sacrifice all or part of it so that someone else, who hasn’t been as successful, might benefit?
I’m not talking about more entitlements here—I don’t believe in getting something for nothing, and I don’t believe in penalizing success—but what if such acts of self-sacrifice were commonplace? Think of the possibilities!
Our Founding Fathers were willing to sacrifice everything they had to establish this country. In The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson even committed it to writing, “. . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
More recently, members of our “Greatest Generation,” namely those who served and fought in World War II—many of whom did not return home alive—were similarly willing to sacrifice “all” so that others might benefit.
I’m not suggesting any of us has to go to such extremes just yet, but how refreshing would it be to see those “great ones” among us, regardless of the size of their bank accounts, their ethnicities, their ages, or their political ideologies step forward? Where is this generation’s George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Martin Luther King Jr.?
It might be as simple as spending more time with your kids, teaching them right from wrong, or volunteering more, or getting by with a little less. Maybe that kind of selflessness is all that’s needed to change the world. Maybe.
What can you do? What personal or professional sacrifice can you make to pay it forward?