Clarification: If there has been a political imprint on my lifelong work with nonprofit organizations, it is embodied by my respect for community-based organizations whose missions are devoted to improving the quality of people’s lives, particularly those without an abundance of ready resources at their disposal. Add to this my belief in the sanctity of the words from the Industrial Areas Foundation shared early in my book:
“We believe in what we call the iron rule: never do for others what they can do for themselves. Never. This rule, difficult to practice consistently, sometimes violated, is central to our view of the nature of education, of leadership, of effective organizing. This cuts against the grain of some social workers, and program peddlers who try to reduce people to and families to clients, who probe for needs and lacks and weaknesses, not strength and drive, not visions and values, not democratic and entrepreneurial initiative. The iron rule implies that the most valuable and enduring form of development ̶ intellectual, social, political ̶ is the development people freely choose and fully own.”
So, there you have it.
As I am writing this, the times are proving particularly difficult for many among us in a broad social, economic and cultural realm. I found the following article by Jim Tull, from his book, Positive Thinking in a Dark Age, reflective of two things for me. First, I relate to what he discusses in my own experience of life on life’s terms these days. Second, everything he conveys in the essay convinces me that the work of nonprofits discussed above has never been more important.