Howard Thurman (1899-1981) was an African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader known for his famous quote, “Follow the grain in your own wood.” When just a boy, Howard’s parents dropped him off at the Florida East Coast Depot in Daytona, Florida, so he could attend high school in a less segregated school in Jacksonville. They paid for his ticket, but forgot to pay for his luggage. He sat in the depot in tears when a stranger approached, listened to his story, and paid his luggage bill for him. In his autobiography, Howard Thurman dedicated his book to the stranger who “restored my broken dream.”
Thurman’s contribution to civil rights was never as loud as Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead, he developed a philosophy of social change by changing one’s individual, internal spirit. His story illustrates the goodness of giving.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Giving to charity makes us feel alive. Even though a gift to a qualified charity may entitle us to a deduction against income taxes, taking the deduction is smart investing. Tax laws provide the opportunity to make the world a better place. When we think of others, we forget about ourselves. When we give to others, we come more fully alive.