In Gratitude for Women's Philanthropy

I love kids, and am happy in their world or with one on my knee. I can also write white papers, sales talks, and argumentative essays. What I can't do is to write the language of logic and of love at the same time. I can be surrounded by the murmur of loving voices, and that allows me to concentrate on logic, in other words to be totally absent. But to be present to the voices and the logic, at once, I just can't do. Women, certain women, many women, seem to have this gift of blending care and reason, and without it, what chance do our communities have?

In a recent meeting, the topic of women's philanthropy came up, and all present, men and women both, fell into a meditative silence. A wordy meeting with flipcharts and all, went silent, like the silence among friends, who communicate without words.

Women have learned how to do what I do better than I. I have not yet been able to do what women do weaving reason and love. When the frame shifts, and it is women who set the tone, a tone they may now reserve for women among women, there will be hope for something that will outlast our dead shells.

We came from the sea, pulled by the moon. The womb is a portable ocean. In that envelop the tiny creature swims, recapitulating evolution. No wonder when women's philanthropy came up we present had nothing to say, but a sigh.

The Heir to the Bamboozle Fortune is Down to One Mansion

The old toothless man in the breadline is silently weeping.  "The heir of the Bamboozle Fortune," he reads in the paper, "has suffered a financial reversal and must sell his vacation mansion in Bel Air."  "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves," mutters the old man, "it breaks my heart that the rich must suffer so." If only the rich had as much compassion for the poor as the other way around. 

A Pious Fraud and Role Model

"Just because we are damned for all eternity does not make us bad people," Tutor explained to me, last night, over a can of half-eaten tuna we had found in a Dumpster. "God has his value system, we have ours. Who is to say what is right or wrong?" You can see why Tutor, my mentor, and Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, has always done better than I as a Spiritual Director to Worldly Wealth. 

Author and Reader On Speaking Terms, at best

"We read," said William Nicholson, "to know we are not alone." But in a time of Facebook, Twitter, and surveillance, my mentor, The Happy Tutor, teaches, "We must write to remain alone." I am not sure what he means. But maybe that is what he means. I don't know.  Maybe my not knowing is the point. But that would be so sad. He is my only friend, though, apparently, imaginary.

The Rules of Power

Reading up on The 48 Rules of Power, a kind of modern Book of the Courtier, in the hopes of rising in Wealth Bondage, through loyal service to my Leader and Generous Patron, she who rules us all, I have not found much I can use, here at the ragged end of an undistinguished career, but I did find this bit, under Rule 24, promising: Rather than speaking uncomfortable truth to power, position yourself as a soothsayer who reads omens and portents. Rather than you being to blame, when the augury is unwelcome, you could blame the entrails of a bird, or the movements of the stars. So, I might cut open a dog and read in the guts the fall of a civilization. The same author has a field guide on The Art of Seduction. I will pass it along to my colleagues, The Lords and Ladies of the Road. But when it comes to peddling Wisdom and Virtue, even the poorest Beggar has more than he needs. Those who go in finery and robes of office, give Wisdom and Virtue away like cast off costumes after Carnival.  If I had any credibility left, I would use it to ask forgiveness for having, through my own repeated example, called our game into disrepute. This is no time or place for honesty. I knew that before I wrote this post. And I did it anyway. I have only myself to blame. But I am sorry.

Red or blue pill, Sire?

Generally, in pitching the world's wealthiest families on my (as yet unsuccessful) Moral Tutoring shtick, I don't get past the butler, the trusted advisors, and the most trusted advisor, let alone the man of all work, or even the chambermaid, the chauffeur, or the teller of fortunes; and when I chase the limousines, naked and barefoot, to make the pitch, they generally just speed off, before I can outline my Value Proposition. But in imagination, so I can be ready when given an opening, if ever I get one, I have honed the my Elevator Speech to one poignant question:

Sir (or Madame or Sir and Madame), would your prefer blue pill or red pill ethics? For you? Your children? The general populace?

As you probably know, blue pill ethics are the ethics of sheep touted by Shepherds who have a vested interest in fresh lamb and fleece. Red pill ethics, as you probably know, are rooted in the Dark Triad of Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy associated with thinkers as diverse as Castiglione, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Aynn Rand, or Leo Strauss. It is the philosophy of the Superman or Superwoman, the Master or Mistress of the Universe. Not the lamb, but the wolf.

My thought is that whichever pill the Dynastic Family prefers - and who am I to judge as Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families,  I am here to serve -- I conduct values exercises, and create a family mission statement that will work within their preferred modality. As high sounding, hypocritical, self serving, BS, in the red pill genre, while I work behind the scenes to tutor the young prince or princess in the wised up real values; or, in the unlikely event the family had swallowed the blue pill, and never wised up, I could just use the family values verbatim as cornpone for the consumption of heirs under the age of reason, until they were prepared for a more esoteric lesson.

I would have liked to think that my specializing in red pill Mentoring would set me apart from the claque of Trusted Advisors, and Most Trusted Advisors, doing Family Values work, since all I ever see out there for family values statements are pretty much cornpone, but I have come to see that this could be the work of red pill families properly coached. I, too, if I had a client, and sincerely wished to serve them well, would want a corny mission statement to face the world, while behind the scenes the children were taught the skills (Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy) correlated with success at the level of Statecraft, or the preservation of a family's net worth far exceeding that of the Padua, Venice, or Florence.  

I fear that at times Gifthub has often been hopelessly idealistic, citing the Gospels and other blue pill philosophies, and this might seem to disqualify me from teaching Ethics to The World's Finest Families, but I would like to state for the record that I am flexible when it comes to ethics as a practical matter. There is no better disguise for guile than a little scripture here and there, or a bit of philanthropy. My responsibility as Wise & Virtuous Fiduciary to UHNI's is to elicit Family Values, paper them up, paper them over, and get things done. For those who are put off by my show of ethics, please be assured that my only colleagues and friends, here in Wealth Bondage, are among the dregs of humanity, whose ethics are demonstrably worse than even than those of our best clients. How bad are my ethics? My friends say that even in our Bordello, in our most debauched moments, I am considered louche, or would be if I were allowed to play a role larger than handing out towels in return for tips, as I do now. If my ethics are not bad enough to be a morals coach, I can do worse. If only I had the money, Sir, or Madame, or Sir and Madame, as the case my be.

The Rainbow's Gold

You have heard, of course, of the rainbow with the pot of gold at its end. But, perhaps, in gift planning, the pot of gold, about one foot in diameter, and one foot deep, is at the beginning. And it gives off white light, glinting gold. This rainbow is not created by mist or rain, but by a prism, easily held in the hand of a gift planner. Through that prism, light streams, refracted into a rainbow arch across they sky, with an organization in the center, and thousands of people served at the end of that rainbow. The colors in that spectrum are "donor motivation." One color is money as money, in market terms. Another color is donor moral autobiography. Another is donor's vision, values, principles. Another is the donor's family and traditions. Another is metrics connecting money with results. Each of these colors spans the sky uniting the pot of gold with lives touched.

The pot of gold is a fairy tale, but (what is worse) the rainbow is also scriptural.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, mankind (not us, it was not our fault) failed in its stewardship of the earth, and defaced God's image, in themselves, as thumbs over time can obliterate or wear away, the emperor's face from a gold coin. The waters rose and would annihilate all life on earth, where it not for Noah, his ark, and his folly. Through him life was preserved, and without his folly none of us would be here today.

Do you know about that rainbow?

That rainbow was set above the waters as they began to recede, as a sign of hope.

Giving can be explicated as means to end, in market logic, a theory of change. And it is all that; one color is that. But giving is also a reenactment of a gracious sign or ritual, encompassing origins and ends (as Dr. Paul Schervish says, "Genesis and Telesis"), and unites us across time in an enduring community.

H. Peter Karoff speaks of the gift planner as answering a "long distance call." Without the gift planner, without the prism, no rainbow, the sign of hope.