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I have been working on my essay for a couple of weeks. Your topic is timely. Thank you.

Benevolent Despites: Take a Time Out
Essay by Maria Rella

As I ponder the media headlines, “Class Warfare” and “Greed Is Good” I wonder if we have a generation of citizens who have forgotten their roots. Our country has evolved as a result of past philanthropic financiers such as John Rockefellers, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Eli Lilly, J. Paul Getty, and our present day benefactors Bill & Melinda Gates, Paul Newman and Ophrah Winfrey. Are they capitalists? Yes. Do they have interest in growing large institutions that are based on capitalistic ideas? Yes. Is that so wrong? No. The endowments of philanthropic champions may not directly provide funds to the poor on the street, but their foundations create fundamental long-term investment in our country by providing on-going programs that support public health projects, education and cultural programs that enrich and benefit our children past and present.

The contention that there is class warfare between Main Street and Wall Street is not useful and is a sidetrack to the larger issues. Are we to denigrate the attributes of the affluent who have contributed to nonprofit foundations; their talent, expertise and creative ideas--the same attributes that have made their businesses so profitable and provide a basis to our economic vitality?

What I believe, is that we need to take a deep breath and reflect back on the essential foundation of ethics that made our country robust. As a grandchild of Italian immigrants, I cannot forget the core values that my mother a widow, instilled in her children – by action and words to her children. You may be familiar with these adages from your childhood, if your parents lived during the great depression - pay your debts, your name is your word, character and reputation, work smart, enjoy a good debate, respect your elders and take care of them; listen to their stories, help children in need especially those who do not have both parents, and be true to yourself.

I believe the technocrats involved in the greed of the mortgage and bank debacle did not contemplate the repercussions of their actions. Yes, they violated our trust and we have all been personally impacted by their actions. Citizens are moving through the stages of grief as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book "On Death and Dying". Our leaders and the populist have been in “denial” for sometime. Those affected with financial ruin are in stages of “anger, depression and sadness”. Our legislators continue to “bargain” for a plan that will repair the damages.

We have the ability to be resilient and live successfully in the new economy. CEO’s must not violate the periphery by exceeding their rightful share. Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich…But we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else.” It will take time for us to heal and for confidence to reemerge. I believe we must move beyond the anger and progress to the next stage of positive solutions so innovations can develop. Remember and convey to your grandchildren how the large gas guzzling vehicles and over valued investments were examples of the self-absorption of the first half of the 21st century. Your story will continue recounting the lessons learned and the resilience of the citizens who reshaped a renewed recovery.