Volunteerism and Humanitarianism

14 f I * he idea of self-improvement includes more than achieving material gain through

X hard work and self-discipline. It also includes the idea of improving oneself by helping others. Individuals, in other words, make themselves into better persons by contributing some of their time or money to charitable, educational, or religious causes that are designed to help others. The philosophy is sometimes called volunteerism or humanitarianism.

15 Historically, some of the extremely wealthy Americans have made generous contributions to help others. In the early 1900s, for example, Andrew Carnegie, a famous American businessman, gave away more than $300 million to help support schools and universities and to build public libraries in thousands of communities in the United States. John D. Rockefeller, another famous businessman, in explaining why he gave a large sum from his private fortune to establish a university, said, “The good Lord gave me my money, so how could I withhold it from the University of Chicago?” The motive for humanitarianism and volunteerism is strong: Many Americans believe that they should devote part of their time and wealth to religious

or humanitarian causes in order to be acceptable in the eyes of God and in the eyes of other Americans. Many businesses encourage their employees to do volunteer work, and individuals may get tax deductions for money given to charity.

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