Familiar lines from a poem by John Donne explain the reason for charity:
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
These lines point to the significance of man’s sharing with others. For it is in acts of charity that people can find meaning in their lives as they join the community of man. There is something in people that drives them to help others and to interact with them. In fact, charity benefits both the givers and the recipients. Those who are in need are aided and touched by the kindness of the givers. These givers, in turn, feel a sense of fulfillment and meaning in their lives from their connection with people during their altruistic acts. For instance, when employees of a company organize a charity event, there is a bond formed among people who may not have worked or socialized with one another previously. At Chicago’s LaSalle Network, for instance, employees there organized a Dance Marathon for Lurie Children’s Hospital, a pediatric specialty hospital. During the planning for this event, many employees teamed with others whom they did not know. As they planned the dance for charity, these employees grew closer to one another. While the LaSalle Network employees interacted at the Dance Marathon, they formed meaningful relationships with one another.
Meaning in life comes from sharing. The donation of time and concern along with the raising of money in cooperative efforts rewards both the recipients of charitable acts and the givers. Scientific research has produced data that supports the concept that the act of giving brings about happiness. This research has revealed that the act of giving to others activates the same parts of the brain as do sexual acts and eating food, activities that are pleasurable. Further, it is the love put into these efforts that also benefits the givers. Those who participate in acts of philanthropy become better and healthier people for having exhibited unselfishness in donating their energies and time to improve the lives of others. Indeed, their acts have brought purpose to their lives, making them wholesome and happier. Their altruism also provides them the satisfaction of knowing that they have demonstrated good character and that other people have been made happy by their charity.