The Politics of Generosity: Reclaiming Our Nation’s Misspent Vocabulary

by Cathy Primer Krafve

Lately, it seems we must screen nonprofits for hidden political agendas. The idea of giving to an agenda totally contrary to my personal convictions puts chills down my spine.

Maybe like our family, you like the idea of middle-class philanthropy with accountability naturally built into the process.

Since when did it become necessary to give according to our political views? When did political agendas start outranking pure generosity? How can folks give confidently, generously, with our community’s best interest in mind? Yep. I have lots of questions about giving.

Question #1: Since when did it become necessary to give according to our political views?

People have always used money to influence politics. But we used to call that lobbying. The lingo has changed.

Now big tech folks, like the Zuckerberg and Bezos crowd, try to pass off their lobbying as philanthropy. They’ve just about redefined the word philanthropy to exclude the rest of us.

Seriously, who wants to live in a world where sharing the small excess your family accumulates in a year (or several years) is no longer considered generous or even necessary? Not me.

Question #2: When did political agendas start outranking pure generosity?

If we want to reclaim generosity, we better start reclaiming the words politicians and media hacks use to divide us.

Did you know you can be liberal, conservative, AND moderate? Simultaneously. Without swaying in the political wind or lacking conviction.

Originally, the words, liberal and conservative and moderate, were not even rooted in politics. Of course, this is why it’s good to have old folks around. Because we remember stuff. Like solid definitions and common sense. And courtesy.

Together, Anna Krafve Pierce and I are reclaiming words like conservative, liberal, and moderate on our show, Fireside Talk Radio.

“Anytime you take language out of a political arena or large bureaucratic arena and make it personal, then there’s more accountability,” explains Anna. “That’s a good thing. The word becomes more useful again, more nuanced.”

Why should political and media hucksters get all the good words, we say! So, Anna and I came up with some Camp Krafve definitions of liberal, conservative, and moderate. You won’t find our definitions in any dictionary.

Solid definitions restore the usefulness of these words, if healthy community building is your goal. Plus, they prepare your children and grandchildren to be community builders, too.

  • Liberal—Lifelong learning about the generosity of sharing oneself
  • Conservative—Lifelong learning about how to steward resources wisely to have something wonderful to share
  • Moderate—Lifelong learning to judiciously take into account others’ perspectives without compromising personal conviction.

Enough stereotyping each other to villainize and divide! Make no mistake, creating villains is all about control. Ratings, political savvy, sound bites, power mongering. If we want to heal our culture, we better get back to using words with integrity.

Fortunately, solid definitions of words like liberal, conservative, moderate, generosity, and philanthropy accurately tell more truth than anything you’ll see on the nightly news.

Question #3 How can folks give confidently, generously, with our community’s best interest in mind?

Perhaps, like us, you always watch for accountability when you give. Hard-working folks know what I mean when I say generosity is about sacrifice. Generosity means making a choice to share something you could spend on your own family.  Of course, we want to know the resources we share are really building a healthier community and world. Nothing codependent or politically crooked about it.

Our family likes the idea of neighbors helping neighbors. We tend to focus on groups like Bethesda, PATH, Literacy Counsel, Mercy Ships, and our own churches. Personally, I really love the idea of exporting good East Texas common sense to places all over the world.

One important way I stretch my personal giving is through Women’s Fund. I love Women’s Fund for at least 7 reasons.

1) Women’s Fund brings together women from diverse walks of life to make remarkable things happen for children and women in East Texas.

2) It exposes me to ministries and efforts I might not know about otherwise.

3) It provides tons of accountability as volunteers, donors, and staff from all the recipient organizations come together.

4) I’ve benefitted from mentoring along the way from professional women and other philanthropist of all varieties as we serve on committees.

5) Nobody pressures you to add one thing to your schedule. No guilt trips, only joy.

6) I’m confident in the oversight and influence of the good folks at East Texas Communities Foundation, who cheered for Women’s Fund from the beginning.

7) Best of all, Women’s Fund allows me to multiply my small annual gift. Yep, I’ve given away over two million dollars! Sure, it’s me and a few hundred other women together over several years to many outreaches. But, hey, I still get a thrill about my small gift included in the pool of those accumulated, collaborative gifts.

If you’re wondering how to join Women’s Fund, it’s easy. Just contact our friend, Zoe Lawhorn. She’ll let you know the best ways you can pitch in to change the lives of women and children here in East Texas. I hope to see you at one of our events soon.

In the meantime, let’s join together to resist the foolishness rampant in our culture.

Instead, let’s unite around the lifelong pursuit of learning to share oneself, steward resources wisely, and judiciously take into account others’ perspectives without compromising personal conviction. By doing so, we’ll build a stronger, more generous community for generations to come. And who knows? Maybe good ole East Texas common sense will spread everywhere!

Cathy Primer Krafveis host of Fireside Talk Radio and author of The Well: The Art of Drawing Out Authentic Conversations and Marriage Conversation: From Coexisting to Cherished. Your stories, ideas, and questions are welcome at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang spoken here! You can learn more about the Women’s Fund of Smith County by visiting www.womensfundsc.org.

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