For this month’s Young Professionals Ted talks lunch, I chose the talk. The talk I chose is called The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong by Dan Pallotta.
Here were the prompting questions I came up with to lead our groups discussion:
“These social problems are massive in scale, our organizations are tiny up against them, and we have a belief system that keeps them tiny.” Do you think that if enough people change their beliefs, organizations can grow big enough to actually do things like cure cancer and end homelessness?
He talked about the hypothetical Stanford MBA grad who makes $400k/yr and who donates $100k to charity. Which role would you choose for yourself: that one or the role of CEO of the charity?
If a Disney movie flops, no problem; but if a charity tries a new endeavor and it doesn’t produce the results, their character is called into question. Do you think this is the right perspective to have? Should charities be more careful when it comes to risk taking with donations?
People often wonder what percentage of their donation goes to the cause vs. overhead.
Have you ever reconsidered donating to a charity because of the fear your donation will be misused? Have you had the belief that overhead is not part of the cause? What do you tend to assume overhead means?
Permanence is scary. The idea that you’ll be trapped in this town, or in this marriage. Or that if you take that job you’ll probably be stuck in that field for the rest of your life. Or that things won’t change and you’ll never find a life partner. If things suck, we don’t want them to stay sucking.
Death is an especially terrifying event. Once a friend is gone, she’s gone. Guns are bad because they can make someone permanently disappear with the pull of a trigger.
Unless of course you believe in heaven, and especially in forever families. Mormons believe that eventually we will all die and be reunited with all our loved ones in heaven. So really, any mortal separation is only temporary, and while that’s sad, it’s all okay because it’s not permanent. A child could die by a freak accident and if his parents are Mormon, while I’m sure they will be absolutely devastated, they will also feel a sense of peace about the event because, hey, they’ll see him again one day and get their second chance to raise him in heaven.
With beliefs like this, what’s there to fear in life or death?
For those who don’t share those beliefs, life events carry a lot more weight. Our decisions and actions and misfortunes can determine the rest of our existence, and the existence of others. There is no second chance and there is no do over. If you mess up, you mess up. The fear of the theoretical consequences can be stifling for some, and the paralysis of fear is all too real.
There’s a stereotype with Mormons that they do a lot of things. Accomplish a lot of things. Succeed in said things. I think to succeed requires a certain degree of risk taking. People with fear paralysis tend to be bad at risk taking. People who believe they will always have a second chance have nothing to worry about.
At what point does it matter how the universe actually works, when a belief system continuously produces confident people who are successful? Which is more important: truth or taking action? As we lay on our death beds (believing we will soon go to heaven or not) what will we prioritize in the life we just lived? The things we did or the things we believed?