Don't Be a Mooch!

A few years ago I remember watching television and a celebrity verbalizing that they did not believe just because they were a celebrity they were obligated to give their money away. They believed that whether you made $40.00, $40,000.00, or $40,000,000.00 you and you alone had the right to decide what you did with your money.
I remember initially thinking “But don’t you want to give back?”
A few days ago I had the same conversation with a fellow entrepreneur. As he talked not only about the nuts and bolts of his business, start up costs, day to day operations and the like, he talked about the importance of giving back. And he further described giving back as not only meaning financial contributions, but time and other non monetary resources.
I won’t lie. I do feel that we, and by we, I mean any living and breathing person, so you, are obligated to give back. And what that looks like I certainly think is up to each individual person. And I certainly think you are phree to disagree. I’m a big girl, my feelings won’t be hurt.
But let me share a little more about my “obligatory” thoughts.
The way I see it, no one exist alone. No one exist outside of or a part from anyone else. It’s not possible. It’s nice to think people got o where they are in life on their own, but they didn’t. First, none of us willed or wished ourselves into existence. Our mere physical presence on earth depended upon someone else. Second, anything we utilize is a result of someone or something else. I didn’t create the laptop I’m writing this post on. Heck I didn’t even buy this laptop. All other folk. Sure someone “invented” particular items. But they invented them with other things that existed and they manipulated. And other things existed either via another human being or bare minimum nature. Third, less we forget the power and influence of words and the presence or absence of others in our lives. Often the people who like to think they are self made were motivated by someone else. They were motivated by the absent parent, the teacher who said they were dumb, the smarter more attractive more athletic cousin, sibling, neighbor. Or they were motivated by the present parent, the teacher who saw something in them, or the same cousin/sibling/neighbor who told them they were equally as talented.
As Saint Francis of Assisi put it, “No man is an Island.”
Phreedum would not exist without the influence of others in my life. Period. It would not exist without the exposure I had to both happiness and hurt, failures and possibilities, laughter and tears. It would not exist without college in central Pennsylvania, trips to California, Philadelphia public schooling, working with individuals infected and affect by HIV/AIDS, murdered family members, cancer beaten family members, disabled family members, friends, prayers, and even Hollywood. And that’s not even my complete list of contributing factors for my desire to start a company and build a brand that knows its success is measured by how many people it helps. And that means whether the images and phrases used inspire dialog or change or money is donated to contribute to a scholarship fund or a much needed alternative education program, phreedum is designed to help.
Just because I believe we are obligated to give back doesn’t mean I get to tell you where, to whom, and how much. You can start micro (give someone a compliment, tutor your neighbor’s kid after school or buy a cup of Alex’s Lemonade for a dollar) or meso (organize a team for the Breast Cancer Walk or HIV/AIDS walk, organize and start a community garden) or macro (decide that whatever business you start or have will make a commitment to donating part of it’s assets (money, skills of your staff, physical space to host charity events, etc) to a larger cause that means something to you and your team.
“Service (giving back) is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth”- Shirley Chisholm
Don’t be a mooch!

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