Our Guiding Questions:
Love, Happiness & Health
Does the unselfish love of others contribute to the happiness, health and resilience of those who give it?
We believe that contributing to the lives of others, so long as the giver maintains balance and boundaries so as not to become overwhelmed and exhausted, allows those who “love their neighbor” to flourish. They flourish by living an active life of giving not because they expect to be paid back in kind, but because in “doing unto others” they are freed from preoccupation with the self and the problems of the self, from self-destructive emotions (like bitterness, rage, rumination, hostility, despair, and the like), from lack of purpose, and from loneliness or isolation. Yes, certain individuals are called to special forms of love activism in which risk might find them, but risk is not sought after so much as accepted with courage. Darwinians may love to study bees that sting and die for the hive, but this model has distorted our thinking about human altruism and flourishing. We much prefer the founder of modern sociology, Comte, who simply contrasted the emptiness of an egoistic life with the fullness of an “other-regarding” one. As the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber noted, there are two ways of living in the world. We can pretend that we are the center of the universe and relate to others only so long as they contribute to our egotistic agendas (“I-It”). If we live this way we will eventually fail. Or we can realize that we are not the center of the universe and we can relate to others in love and respect (“I-Thou”). One wants to remember that Ebenezer Scrooge was miserable in his miserliness, but as he discovered how to freely give he also became so very joyful. Indeed, by the end of the story he has what I call “the giver’s glow” and becomes one of the merriest of people. So our Institute has a motto that Sir John Templeton approved for it: “In the giving of self lies the unsought discovery of a deeper self.”