In the Community
The Philanthropy FluFebruary 18, 2010
With all of the concerns about the H1N1 virus this season, we have certainly developed some new habits. My hands have never been washed so much in my life. I’m still in training to remember the “sneeze into my elbow” technique. There are fist bumps and elbow bumps instead of handshakes and hugs. I take my life in my hands and risk falling down the stairs in deference to using the hand railing. And even at church, before taking the bread and wine, I take the hand sanitizer.
The apparent ease of spreading viruses has caused me to wonder if we could create a Philanthropy Virus to be purposefully spread among the masses. It is my belief that if everyone were infected, the world would be a much better place. In my vision, symptoms include an almost uncontrollable desire to be helpful to others, a serious craving to make a difference in our communities, a rash of increased personal giving, an unquenchable thirst to share our gratitude for all we have, and a fever-induced madness that causes one to believe that everyone else must catch this flu.
In my mind’s eye, the virus is spread by smiling at others, by sharing our joy at having caught the disease, by taking our children by the hand and insisting that they volunteer with us, and by spreading our dollars into the nonprofit sector. We meet friends at barn-raisings (or the modern-day equivalent—serving on nonprofit boards, feeding or housing the needy, teaching people to read or paint, caring for orphaned pets) instead of on the Internet. And we make sure that others are so taken with our diseased life that they want to make sure to become diseased as well. Instead of developing habits to prevent the spread of the virus, our habits take us in the reverse direction.
Friends, I hate to tell you, but I’ve long been contaminated. And I’ve no desire to get over it. My life is full (not my sinuses), my heart pounds (with hope), and my chills result from the positive impact of the work. If you aren’t already infected with the Philanthropy Flu, call me or stop in for a visit. You’ll be glad you did. And don’t put it off, because every day matters.
Denise K. Spencer