Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And Again, I Am Inspired

What makes a hero? That answer is different for every person you ask. Some will cite their local sports figure as their hero. Others will name policemen or firemen. Others will name entertainers. Someone else may talk about our serviceman and military personnel. But me? My heroes are philanthropists. And not just rich ones; pretty much anyone who dedicates a large portion of their time and resources to help those less fortunate than they are. Reading this wonderful article in the New York Times today has made my heart swell with so much admiration for these two men and everyone like them. Here's an excerpt:

The friendship between Warren E. Buffett and Bill Gates has been forged over a shared passion for such homespun American treats as cherry Coke, burgers and college football. They delight as well in loftier pursuits, like playing bridge and solving complex math problems.

But, more than anything, what Mr. Buffett's $31 billion gift to the foundation that Mr. Gates runs with his wife, Melinda, shows is a common disdain for inherited wealth and a shared view that the capitalist system that has enriched them so handsomely is not capable alone of addressing the root causes of poverty.

"A market system has not worked in terms of poor people," Mr. Buffett said yesterday, in an interview taped earlier in the day for "The Charlie Rose Show" on PBS.

As for any thought he might have had in giving the bulk of his billions to his three children, Mr. Buffett was characteristically blunt. "I don't believe in dynastic wealth," he said, calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances "members of the lucky sperm club."

I've always shared that sentiment, sometimes eliciting a mountain of scorn from others. If I build a fortune in my lifetime, the bulk of it would go to help humankind and not my own children. They would not inherit millions of dollars upon my death. It is up to them to work hard and build their own fortune. They will become much stronger and competent people that way. That's not to say that i wouldn't leave a small amount to them but it would be under certain conditions. Like if they were trying to complete an advanced degree or if they wanted to start a non-profit organization..things like that. But not just do-whatever-you-want-and-not-work money. I will not breed any Paris Hiltons.

Some have said to me, "why would you not want your children to have an easier life than you?" Because it's my belief that easier is not better. Easier is worse. It fosters complacency and a lack of fortitude. Struggle builds character and inspires creativity. So my greatest wish for my 2 sons is that they have great struggles and obstacles in life. Hell, they were born Black in America so they already do.


Piscean Princess said...

This is awesome. I have to follow up on the PBS interview so I can TiVo it.

Did you see the Gates' on Oprah on her 2-day education thing? And the one with Buffet's granddaughter discussing the fact that she gets zero money?

Yes, I must get in the loop here!

Damali said...

yeah i saw the Oprah interview with the Gates'. If i lived in Seattle, i'd want to work for their foundation. There's a few jobs in DC but i ain't trying to live there...

i missed the Buffet granddaughter tho...was there a hint of saltiness that she doesn't get any money? like in her tone or facial expression or body language? i mean their has to be. you know the kids at school were teasin' her on some "your granddaddy rich and you broke! ahahaha!"

Piscean Princess said...

The one w/ Buffet's granddaughter was interesting. It was really a show about the working poor and then she had some other heir of some such thing. I can't remember who his gran-pappy was, but he was straight rolling in dough. He & some buddy went out and did a documentary about poverty, interviewing folks on the street. He talked a lot about how his family wants to disown him because he talks about money (apparently, this is not PC).

So Buffet's GD was kind of a contrast. I didn't get any anger or resentment from her. I have to admit, I walked away from the TV briefly while she was on (it was during that last 10 minutes where it's constant commercials!). But she seemed cool about it.