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August 25, 2015


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Kathy Jankowski

Hi Albert. Thanks for this. Would love to hear you describe what a dangerous approach looks like in philanthropy. It would be sort of radical to understand the deep, pervasive fear that underlies the hording of wealth and resources. It is so great that even people with no wealth (and little income mobility) protect an unequal system because if they ever had wealth, they'd want the same thing. Not sure which is less present moment. I imagine that a system grounded in the sacred depends on the many being present, as well, perhaps even more so. It's hard to be engaged when you are trying to survive, and the few at the top will not release their (death) grip on a reality that keeps them powerful, privileged and, unfortunately, purposeful. What would it look like to move the middle?


Your comment, Kathy, should be the subject of considerable debate in philanthropy, but I suspect it never will be. It goes to the heart of our failure as a field. What does a dangerous philanthropy look like? Does it help us understand the "pervasive fear" you mention, the insecurity felt by so many people in the working and middle classes who tremble at the thought of falling through the holes in a shredded safety net and being left hungry and miserable in their old age? Apart from helping us understand this insecurity, would a dangerous philanthropy lead us, through deliberation and political action, to eliminate the sources of this fear, with all the risks this entails?

Not to evade your questions with more questions, I think that, at a minimum, a dangerous philanthropy would speak some kind of recognizable truth.

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