[Guest post by DRJ]
Part of Christmas is the spirit of giving and this interview with Simon Cowell of American Idol fame made me think about what that spirit really means:
And speaking of “Idol Gives Back” …
“There won’t be an “Idol Gives Back” this year. With what’s happening in the world, I don’t think it feels right to tell couples with mortgages that they’ve got to start donating money to charities when they’ve got enough problems at home.
The second thing is, looking at “Idol Gives Back” in the future, we are going to have to up the balance of how much money is going to American charities, because I think it’s important that we give more…We will be doing this again, but it just didn’t seem appropriate this year.”
I’m sure this makes sense to Cowell and probably to a lot of people: Why ask people to sacrifice when they’re hurting? But the need for charity is even greater when more people are hurting. It could be that Cowell believes his audience has no ability to make good giving decisions so he won’t ask them to give. If so, I feel sorry for him and the viewers whose judgment he holds in such low esteem.
Here’s a thought: Every year, Cowell could encourage American Idol viewers to give generously of their time and money to charities of their choice, and his show could publicize examples of how giving makes a difference. Alternatively, if Cowell thinks it’s important that American Idol leads the effort, he could start by reducing his salary and the show could donate from its profits to make up for any difference in prior giving. (This shouldn’t be a hardship since a recent report indicates Cowell makes £250,000 a day from his businesses.) They could call it American Idol Really Gives Back.
UPDATE — I think this is a better perspective on giving:
“The markets were crashing and Christmas was coming when Pastor Doug Ferguson stepped up to the pulpit of Houston’s Grace Presbyterian Church with $5,000 in his back pocket. He preached about generosity, neighborly love and the meaninglessness of worldly wealth. Then he handed out $100 bills.
His instructions were simple: Use the money to spread comfort and joy. Show some kindness to strangers. And report back in 90 days on what you did.
Ferguson hoped the assignment would lift his congregants above the fray of financial collapse and refocus their thoughts on the real meaning of Christmas: by investing in people instead of stocks. It wasn’t a unique sentiment from a man of the cloth, but the novelty of his approach inspired a fresh fervor in his flock.
The Sunday morning challenge unleashed creative and charitable impulses that some congregants had been hiding under a bushel. In the weeks that followed, they bought shoes for the homeless and a plane ticket for a woman who couldn’t afford to see her son graduate from boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corps. They invited needy children to build gingerbread houses and sent medical equipment to Third World countries.
But they didn’t stop with their $100 bills. Their investments were fruitful. They multiplied.”
Read and be inspired by the whole thing.