This week I attended the Komen “Honor the Promise,”Washington, D.C., Gala. Susan G. Komen is the charity made famous with its pink ribbon and with the mission of ending the scourge of breast cancer. To date Komen has raised over $2 billion and saved countless lives with their research, prevention, detection, and treatment.
The gala is one of the few events in Washington that brings both sides of the aisle together in complete harmony and with total focus on ending a disease that knows no politics in its cause and effect.
Although many honored were clearly from different political ideologies, the strong bonds of philanthropy, service, responsibility, duty, and charity united them all.
What exactly is the definition of philanthropy? Literally, it means the “love of humanity.” You need not be rich to be philanthropic; all you need to do is be one who loves your fellow man enough to help in your own way, and to the extent that you are able.
This year's gala honored David Rubenstein, a well-known Democrat and philanthropist and Congresswomen and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Shultz, a breast cancer survivor herself and activist, was presented with the Betty Ford Award by Susan Ford and Victoria Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
This is what Schultz said about Betty Ford, "I remember when Betty Ford shared publicly that she had breast cancer.” She went on to say, "She was the one who shined a light on breast cancer and brought it out of the shadows and made it OK to talk about — took away the taboo. That's my earliest memory of even being aware of breast cancer as something you have to watch for.”
"To be acknowledged with a lifetime achievement award that had been given to her and named after her, it's really breathtaking."
Although this year two prominent Democrats were honored, the room was chock full of Republicans.
Many Americans probably never heard of David Rubenstein but his acts of charity, philanthropy, and patriotism has touched every single American.
David Rubenstein is the co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity firm.
Rubenstein grew up in Baltimore and went to Duke University where he graduated magna cum laude. Thereafter, he earned a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.
He served time in government as a senior adviser to President Carter in his late 20s and also served as a chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. While building a successful business, Rubenstein realized that it is not enough to make money — a full life requires service, charity, and philanthropy.
David Rubenstein has given hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes and scholarship. He is the chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, president of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and he sits on the board of Duke University.
The list goes on. But, most remarkably of all he purchased the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta and donated it to the National Archives. He did the same with a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Not impressed yet? How about the fact that Mr. Rubenstein gave $7 million to make repairs to the Washington Monument after the freak Washington, D.C. earthquake of 2012.
It was not the government that requested, directed, or demanded these successful business leaders to give back to their nation; it was their own doing — for their own reasons.
In America, we should not be demonizing success — we should be honoring it. We should not pit one group against the other. We are one nation, all for one and one for all.
Americans should be proud that philanthropy and charitable giving is not just a practice of the wealthy. It is ingrained in our culture. Voice of America reported the following:
“Donating to charities is a part of American life. According to the World Giving Index, the United States is the most generous country in the world, followed by Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Britain. According to another study, ordinary individuals gave 73 percent of the money donated to U.S. charities in 2010 — more than $200 billion.
In addition to money and used items, Americans also donate their time as volunteers. Last year, more than 64 million Americans worked as volunteers — almost 27 percent of the entire U.S. population.”
Loving your neighbor is not judged in dollars donated. In fact, it should not be judged at all. Anyone who gives something to someone in need expecting nothing in return is to be respected.
The facts bear out that even in tough economic times, America has not lost her philanthropy. The moment we do, America will cease to exist as we know it.
Now, if only Republicans and Democrats could come together and do for government what they are able to accomplish with charity.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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