The day is commemorated to honor the role of philanthropy in our society. And philanthropy is essentially about actively caring for others. Our demonstration of our love of humanity.
Although the official day started only as recently as 1986, the idea of acting out of filial love for our brothers and sisters is as old as humanity. People help one another in times of crisis and loss, help provide education or support for artistic or scientific endeavor, protect a piece of land, a river, or a majestic or humble species. And these individual acts coalesced over thousands of years into ongoing groups, supporting specific areas of need. Then, in the early prosperous days of the US when income tax was being created, the proposition arose that these groups doing good should be considered exempt. The idea was that those working for the public welfare should use all their profits for the endeavor. And later, the notion that gifts to those groups would also qualify as tax exempt made sense.
Today, all of this is as normal as a blue sky. So much so, we may forget that philanthropy is a choice. It is an act that each one of us is called to make. It is an act that demonstrates our sense of community on this Earth, as we spin through our galaxy, a tiny spec in the grand space of All. Philanthropy is a vote for us. It is an investment in the human race and our place here together. It is also vital nourishment, feeding us in a way as basic as our daily meals.
Philanthropy looks different among us. For some it is giving our time to listen to a friend or bring a meal to the bereaved. For others, rolling down the car window and greeting a person on the street with a smile and some cash. Some prefer sending checks in the mail to a hospital, a school, a dance company or a food bank. No matter how it shows up, philanthropy as an act is what is important. And not just on National Philanthropy Day, of course.
The day itself is for honoring this way of life - of loving and caring for our human family, that extends to our home on Earth and all the living neighbors we share her with. Honoring that this is a choice we continue to make.
How will you commemorate it?