A friend and I were having dinner and the topic of giving to nonprofits came up. I confided that I give to the Oklahoma Humanities Council. My friend asked, “Why?” My response was immediate. “It is the right thing to do.” After dinner I began to ponder: Why do I give to OHC?
From my childhood I was taught to give freely. I can still hear my mother’s voice: “Now, Judy, you git yer shoes on and go down yonder and take Mrs. Jones a mess of these peas. You know she’s been ailin’ lately.” So, yes, I was taught to do so; yet, my gifts to OHC extend beyond my upbringing.
I also give due to my Christian faith. My minister quotes Matthew 5:42: “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not away.” I follow this tenet. Still, my altruism is more than allegiance to scripture or church doctrine. One of Aesop’s fables recounts the story of the grasshopper who spent his days playing, jumping from one leaf to another, singing gaily. Meanwhile, his friend the ant went about diligently finding and storing food. When winter came, the grasshopper was cold and hungry and filled with regret as he observed the ant who was warm and happy with a full tummy. The moral: prepare today for the needs of tomorrow. An OHC donor is like an ant—one who is giving, i.e. storing up, so that all Oklahomans can share in meaningful discussions and activities now and in the future. I definitely want to be an ant!
Although giving to OHC reinforces my membership in a special group (donors/ants), it goes past social identity too—it’s absolute selfishness. You see, I am a direct beneficiary of OHC programming! The Council provides me places to go: exhibits, living history programs, festivals; things to do: Chautauqua, lectures, book discussions; and people to see: scholars, novelists, and poets. Without these opportunities for dialogue and participation, my life would be bleak and lonely. This Southern, faithful, egocentric ant can attest that it is best to give in order to receive!
Judy Neale, Ph.D.
Coordinator of Community Outreach
Cameron University Library