Take vs. Give

Following the collapse of the old Soviet Union, Project C.U.R.E. was pulled into the rescue and rehabilitation of the health care systems of the bankrupt Soviet. After assessing the hospitals, clinics and practices, we immediately began pouring in millions of dollars worth of donated medical goods from the US. We started with the corridor stretching from St. Petersburg to Moscow, but eventually shipped into the remaining republics. 

By 1998, I had worked my way to Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. While there, I traveled about forty miles north to the city of Gori, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, where I met with city officials and medical directors. Throughout Georgia, the discouraged leaders were crying out for businessmen and leaders from the West to come and to teach them the ways of free market enterprise and entrepreneurial concepts. But, sadly, no one showed up in the old Soviet to help educate them, even though they were so open to new options of capitalism and the free market.

When I returned to Tbilisi, I was invited by the university to speak to all their graduate students. “Dr. Jackson, we want you to tell us about Project C.U.R.E., and humanitarians, and free market capitalism.” I jumped at the chance. The auditorium was packed with students and professors.

When I approached the podium I announced my lecture subject, “I want to talk to you today about the‘Economics of Compassion.’” In my presentation I explained that in the mid-1700s Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, proposed economic theories of freedom of choice, economic growth, division of labor, free market movement, self-determination and minimal government intervention.

About 100 years later Karl Marx said Adam Smith was wrong. In order for a society to be successful, Marx held that the economy needed to be controlled at the top by the Politburo and subsequently determined by intelligent people who knew what was best for the society. The only fair thing, according to Marx, was to take away from those who “have” and redistribute to those who “have not,” then there would be peace and equality. The economic experiment of Lenin, Marx, and Trotsky was even further complicated by Stalin’s insistence that aggravation of the class struggle was mandatory, and that political repression was necessary.

The Marxian model touted that the element of compassion was at the center of the philosophy. “We will overthrow the Czars, grab their wealth and equally divide it amongst the peasants.” But the driving force behind the philosophy was not compassion but control. It was not designed that everyone should be equal, because it would be the Politburo’s elite who would be in control and decide just who would be equal and just how equal each would be.

I went on to explain that the operative word in the whole scheme was the word“take.” “Take from those who have and distribute to those who have not.” The moral and emotional basis for the word “take” is a whole world apart from that of “give.”When “take” is employed, the spirit of “give” is trampled, compassion is thwarted and it is presumed that any “care- giving” activity is the responsibility of the state. The recipients of the “give” soon become entitled, addicted and controlled by the handouts of the Politburo. There certainly was no compassion in the word “take.” Words like concern, compunction, benevolence or compassion had to become foreign ideas.

Toward the end of my talk, I shared how free market enterprise had encouraged me to become a compassionate capitalist with the opportunities to help millions of needy people all over the world through humanitarian acts of kindness. “Your greatest fulfillment while living will be realized through your voluntary giving.”

I encouraged the listeners to cultivate kindness and personal compassion. “As you face new opportunities of freedom, you can now experiment with new financial and political concepts. Determine, as you earn and accumulate your wealth in the future, that your motivation will be the compassionate acts of kindness to others. But don’t allow the government to steal the compassion from your soul as it arbitrarily takes your earnings from your purse. Cultivate this concept and your beloved country of Georgia will blossom like a rose in a fertile garden.” Professors and students rose to their feet as one. All their lives they had experienced the debilitating phenomenon of being “taken.”