An interesting video which can be related to myths and heroes (famous celebrities – Bono, Bill Gates, Doris Buffet, etc.. to what extent can these good Samaritans be considered heroes?) and also social progress – To what extent do these good Samaritans contribute to make the world a better place ? If progress is advance or development toward a better human condition, how has the idea of charity evolved over the years? (see charity versus philanthropy)
TRANSCRIPT OF THE VIDEO Philanthropist provides….
Each day, thousands of people with mental illness areliving on the streets of cities and towns acrossAmerica. The U.S Department of Housing and UrbanDevelopment says one-fifth of the 610,000 homelessacross the country suffer from a mental illness. DorisBuffett is the sister of investor and billionaire WarrenBuffett. She has donated one million dollars through anon-profit organization to house homeless people withmental illness.
Doris Buffett is a philanthropist, a wealthy person whogives money to help make life better for other people. She lives in the small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia.Her recent gift of one million dollars went to a local non-profit called Micah Ecumenical Ministries. She saysshe is happy to help homeless people with mentalillness find new homes.
« I’m overwhelmingly happy that due to my brother’s brilliance, and he’s hadgood luck, we’ve all got good luck, that I can do what my heart wants me todo. And this is it, I’m determined to give away my money before I die. »
Vickie Chevrette and her brother Jerry Grimsley were among 20 people toreceive homes as part of this effort. They still remember that cold Januaryday, when they packed up their tents and stepped into a real house for thefirst time in three years.
« I couldn’t believe it. It was wonderful. It was warm. It was solid. »
« Warm. Well, we didn’t have to worry about the snow no more, or the rains,because we used to get flooded, we had to go buy a pump to pump water out from our tent sections. »
Meghan Cotter is the Director of Micah Ministries. She organized thepurchase of seven so-called « Buffett Houses. » To live in one, she says,residents must pay 300 dollars rent per month per room, or do volunteer workto make up for the part of rent they cannot pay.
« We are not just putting people into housing and providing support services, we are actually giving them reasons to get up in the morning, and come and be a part of something. And a lot of them really have a lot of value in that. »
Vickie Chevrette’s receives disability payments from the government. It paysfor the rent for their home. The home provides her with privacy and comfort.Since moving into the house, Vickie Chevrette has been mentally stable. Shenow can remember to take her medicine instead of worrying about where totake a bath. And she loves her kitchen, with its granite countertop, and newappliances.
« Everybody that comes into this kitchen says they want it. »
Although his back injury makes it hard for Jerry Grimsley to do anyhousework, he tries to mow the lawn and plant flowers in the back yard.
« Just to show we have pride in the place, and we are trying to take care of it. And show Ms. Buffett that we are really thankful that she gave us thisopportunity. »
Doris Buffett’s contributions have helped Micah Ministries cut the number ofhomeless in the city by 58 percent over the last five years. The philanthropistsays she is extremely happy with this project, and plans to donate even moremoney in the future.
I’m Marsha James.
Lin Yang and Enming Liu reported this story from Fredericksburg,VA. MarshaJames adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
philanthropist – n. a wealthy person who gives money and time to help makelife better for other people
non-profit – adj. not existing or done for the purpose of making money
brilliant – adj. extremely intelligent or successful
disability – n. a condition (such as an illness or injury) that damages or limitsa person’s physical or mental abilities
Happiness Is an Important Indicator of Societal Progress
Bina Agarwal, a professor of development economics and environment at the University of Manchester, is the author, most recently, of « Gender and Green Governance: The Political Economy of Women’s Presence Within and Beyond Community Forestry. »
UPDATED JULY 2, 2015, 1:30 PM NY Times
If happiness is defined by an individual’s freedom to choose, and lead, a life he or she has reason to value, it is worth tracking it as a sign of national progress.
There was a time when most economists believed that income was a fair measure of personal well-being, and G.D.P. per capita could adequately reflect a country’s progress.
Today, few would disagree that quality-of-life assessments should be multidimensional. The United Nations Development Programme, for example, ranks countries by an annual human development index that aggregates income, life expectancy and education. But are even these factors fully adequate for measuring social well-being?
Quality-of-life assessments that account for happiness and life satisfaction go beyond what G.D.P. can show.
In 2008, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France designated a commission led by Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, both Nobel laureates, to identify which indicators best measure the economic performance and social progress of nations “beyond G.D.P.” I was a member of that commission, and we identified many factors in addition to income and wealth that determine quality of life, including health, education, environmental conditions, social connections, political voice and security.
Yet these are still objective indicators. They tell us little about a person’s own assessment of his or her well-being.
Subjective indicators, like happiness and life satisfaction, capture an important dimension of well-being that is missed by objective measures. Self-reporting also shows the importance people place on having dignity and a voice, as well as access to democratic institutions.
But there are limits to self-reporting when it comes to public policy. Poor women in India, for instance, are much more likely than men to say they are well, even when a doctor’s examination suggests otherwise. Perhaps they cannot afford to take time off work when they are ill, or they are socialized into discounting personal well-being. Reliance on subjective measures could also make governments complacent about social injustice, using the “she is poor but happy” defense.
Ultimately, we need both objective and subjective measures to accurately reflect quality of life on a global scale. And especially when it comes to framing policy, measurement and quantification, even when it comes to happiness, is important.
What’s more, if enough people feel that their happiness depends on living in an environmentally sustainable and equal world, the pursuit of happiness could even be good for the planet.