(From my Journal: Africa: Malawi, Tanzania: October, 1998:) For many years I have been intrigued by the life of Armand Hammer. I read his biographies and his thick autobiographical work. As just a young doctor, he had visited the starving people in the Ural Mountains of Russia. In the early 1900s following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Hammer, of his own volition, scraped together one million dollars to buy grain and shipped it to the needy areas of Russia, asking nothing in return.
Armand Hammer caught the attention of Lenin, the new Russian leader, who eventually invited Hammer into a relationship with Russia that lasted for many years. Except for the period of time when Joseph Stalin made it unsafe for anyone to be in the Soviet Union, including the Soviets themselves, Hammer kept returning, keeping a doorway of communication open between the USA and the Soviet Union when every other avenue was sealed off by the Iron Curtain.
I ran across a segment in Armand Hammer’s autobiography that I believe gives great insight into his thinking and behavior. He once said, “The first thing I look at each morning is a picture of Albert Einstein I keep on the table next to my bed. The personal inscription reads, ‘A person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself.’”
People who live fulfilled lives here on Earth learn somewhere in their journeys that they must move past the experience of living their lives just for themselves into a position of living their lives to help others. In my book What’cha Gonna Do with What’cha Got?, I kept pounding away on the ideas that our true measure of greatness will always be determined by our care for others, not accumulation for ourselves, and also, that the motivation behind our accumulation should be the recognized opportunities for distribution. In other words, living beyond ourselves or outside the tightening circle of our own personal concerns is our only real chance to live a fulfilled and satisfying life.
In another place in my book, I tried to explain the concept that what I hoard I lose… what I try to keep will be left and fought over by others … but what I give to God and others will continue to return forever. And since our greatest fulfillment in life is realized through our giving, Albert Einstein’s inscription on Armand Hammer’s signed photo that “a person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself” really makes a lot of sense.
As I stand back and look at what has taken place in the short history of Project C.U.R.E., I can see that the real significance of Project C.U.R.E. just may well be in giving many people an opportunity to become involved in living beyond themselves. They find an avenue of expression and service that is centered on helping others. They start looking out instead of always in. They may become involved in sorting medical supplies or loading a cargo container or packaging pharmaceuticals, but they begin thinking about the people who will be helped by their efforts. They do it for others, but soon something unexpected happens within. Their selfless behavior begins to work as a worth-building situation within themselves, and hidden inside the package of giving of themselves, they find true reward and fulfillment. I believe there is something miraculous and wonderful about trying to give ourselves away.