One of the most valid testaments to a human being's
character is his ability to extend a helping hand. Whether it is money that
you don't have... or time you could be spending on something else... making a
sacrifice is what is important. At the risk of turning off some religious zealots
I have long believed in a supreme being. Exactly what he or she is, I don't know.
But one thing I do know is that every time one of my fellow human beings sacrifices
time, their money, or their safety, for another human being, that's as godly an act
as winning the lotto! And, as my wife says, most people don't appreciate charity.
They view it as a sign of weakness on your part to get more out of you.
About a year ago I decided to attempt to do one good deed for my fellow human beings everyday. There is so many people that need so much, that it is not easy to decide who gets the brass ring on any given day. And of course, most good deeds revolve around money (and the giving of it) I am very proud of my son, who after a 7 or 8 day working regime goes out into the woods, into the middle of nowhere, with ex-president Jimmy Carter, and helps build houses for Habitat for Humanity! It looks like God did reward him for his wonderful efforts. He has an attractive, bright and personable girlfriend. Is this a reward for his generosity? Hey, once you get into charity, you'll realize that the rewards have to come from you! Often times people are too overwhelmed or embarrassed to thank you! So treat charity just as you would physical rehab. Do it till it hurts a little! Then, back off. Get out there and give, and I promise you that you will get! And remember, if nothing else, the person or persons that you will be helping will look at you like you are a god. You have a moral obligation to, in some way, help your fellow man.
The other morning while eating my strawberries and banana that my beautiful wife had made for me, watching Good Morning America, of which a friend of mine is a producer, all the sudden on comes the Christians Children's fund commercial, with a baby girl from Chili with this terrible forlorn look. While eating a strawberry I thought, Now I am not a Christian, and then chew, chew, chew as I was eating my 7 grain bagel, "I wonder if the guy who runs this is a vicious low-life, or is he on the level?" came across my mind. Well, I said to myself, I'm going to send them $100, and if its a scam, shame on them, if $10 worth of benefits and welfare gets to this girl, it was well worth the $100. If there is a God that watches all and knows all, I'm sure we'll be judged by acts, not our intentions. Everyday I try to do something nice, today I must admit, I have severely abused my webmaster, but with Chanukah coming, I'll find something to get him. Interestingly enough, my wife is a kind, kind woman (just ask my dog), Charity is a foreign word to her. Regardless, I do it, and I love it, and I feel good about myself. Especially when you can sneak up on people and help them with things that would ordinarily not be asked for. That old adage, what goes around comes around just may be truthful! Here I am, a low-life from the Bronx, with a beautiful wife and great employees, living like a sultan! I have a moral obligation to my fellow human being. There is no excuse, within the next 365 days, if you do nothing. It's real cheap to play god my way. Be prepared to be shocked! Years ago, when I started soliciting some of my affluent friends to what I thought to be a worth-while charity, I was surprised to find out how many were reluctant to give! That's an easy way to make enemies! I am very, very happy that I am doing something right however. I don't want to change now!
A while back I spoke with African American lady who had recently got married and set up a new apartment, and in the interim, her husband died of a fatal car accident. This woman decided to move back to her mother's home in South Carolina. In calling a mover, she choose one that was the least expensive, it was now 2 weeks that they had left her with bare walls, no television, no washer/dryer, pictures, high school scrapbook, everything... I was moved to tears. I told my wife I was going to send her $300, and she said I was wacko! Well, just for that, I sent her $500. On my end, I never got a word of thanks from this gal, but I still feel really good about it. That's charity.
Giving help is a learned response, it is not part of the human makeup. I learned that years ago, I was assisting the City of Hope's Cancer program in raising money. I made a list of my friends, and rated their donations from 50 to 1000 dollars. What a lesson I learned! I would visit my friends, go to their offices, and be told the most ridiculous excuses: "Sorry, we are between financial quarters."
When I reported back to my team leader, I was told that the chilly reception I got was de rigueur among the wealthy. Having a charitable nature is a rare but wonderful phenomena. Of course, one can't give to everyone, you must set some parameters. The old Christian way of tithing, offering up to 10% of your income for a noble cause, still might be what it takes to give you a good feeling. Believe it or not, the more I give, the better I feel. It is like not smoking, you are doing something that most humans can't do.
Recently in a fit of charitable dementia, I gave $12,000 to a very noble cause. My wife was astounded, she spent the rest of the evening telling me what that $12,000 would have bought. A number of Princess cruises to nearly anywhere, a few choice new outfits from New York, etc., etc., et. al. Well, the deed was done and there is really no need for clothes or cruises. I only hope that the money was put to good use.
By giving to charity, you are insuring a better life for yourself. I base this on two suppositions. First, maybe that guy in the sky is really there. If so, doing something good gives you brownie points, which we could all use. In case that is just a fairy tale, one of the universal truths is that "what goes around, comes around." Speaking from my own circumstances, I come from the most wretched background. Since I was taught to lend a helping hand, I have done extremely well.
All through history, the greatest men have always proven to be highly charitable. You may say that they give because they have money, but I argue that they always gave, even when broke. And there is more than just giving money. Lately I have visited several stroke victims in the hospital to help let them know what is ahead. While I must still work 12 hours a day, and watch NYPD Blue once a week, finding the time to do charitable work is the most fulfilling part of the day. I have been sending money every month to a young girl in Nicaragua, and this Christmas she wrote me a thank you note. I felt as if I had just won the lottery. If someone in this world has ever done anything good for you, they have probably had the same feeling. It is a cheap thrill.
I truly feel that if you have a few bucks and you do absolutely zip to alleviate human suffering, you are a bad person, and it will catch up, trust me. If any of the readers need some help, either advice-wise, or with finances from me, and their cause is just and worthy, you'll find a willing ear. Send me a brief description of your plight and your dilemma, and I'll see what I can do. If you're behind in your Ferrari Payments, don't bother writing.
The old excuse that the charities don't give to the right people simply doesn't hold water. The big guy keeping brownie points knows what is really going on. Giving is what matters. Whatever god there is may reside in certain humans. There have been times in my life where people have inexplicably appeared, and given me a hand. I had a partner once who was in on the ground floor of Caesar's Palace in Vegas. After knowing me for less than three hours, he lent me $250,000 for buying an auction house in California. I like to believe that every charitable thing I ever did came back in the form of this gentleman. The BBB keep track of larcenous charitable organizations. You can always check with them to see if the charity you are interested in giving to is on the up and up.
If you want to experience the fullness that life can give you, you need love and loving friends. Some people think that you just need "stuff." I just finished the Robb Report before writing this, and my head is full of beach houses in Newport and Testarossa's at Pebble Beach. Take it from me friend, it is a bunch of crap. I don't mean that living the elegant life is crap, I mean that needing an overabundance of stuff is crap. I very recently became a real millionaire. From the very day of reason, I wanted to be rich and famous. Well, being America's first high end jewelry discounter, has given me a good amount of clout. The name Carl Marcus is known by many around the globe, who travel is reputable circles. My accountant recently called and told me that I was a real millionaire, that I could write a check for that amount that day. I must tell you, that despite the hoopla Regis perpetuates on TV, it left me with an empty and strange feeling. All of a sudden you find that nothing is beyond you. Great home, expensive clothes, cars. So I fantasized that I would go on a buying binge. I asked my son what he truly wanted, and he told me a Porsche 911. Maybe someday. I thought to my self, all this money and I don't need a damn thing. New Rolls, big deal. What to do, I could give all my money to charity, but I'm not quite that advanced! I called my close rich friends and ask them, "so what do we do now?" The consensus was find a safe place to stash it, and watch it grow. Peggie Lee's song, "Is that all there is" came to my mind. Getting rich fast is a curse! Bottom line is that whatever you get, someone has one better. I feel sorry for the young men in the financial arena today. All those crazy $2,000 lunches. They need psychotherapy. It can be a big curse, and has cursed many people. It takes knowledge, character, and willpower to handle large amounts of money. If having lots of money is your goal, I say be charitable, it will get you to your goal quicker.
Charity is like exercise, no pain, no gain! Give till it hurts!
At the beginning of this past November (2003), an Army pilot friend of mine in Afghanistan told me of a colleague of his who was shot down by the enemy. The late soldier left behind a wife and two children who had to wake up to find themselves without a husband and father. I felt I just had to write this poor, dear woman. If there are any other visitors to our website who feel the same way I do about the loss of this young man on foreign soil, then you might want to let her know and it might ease her suffering. Just tell her that, as an American citizen, you sorely appreciate her and her husband's contribution to your safety and wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of all your children down the line. This is the ugly part of the war that you don't see on CNN. Read the letter I wrote her below. The address is on it if you want to send her a letter and/or a gift to help relieve her pain.