Opinion: Ben Franklin


Sir Thomas Browne, an English physician and theologian is quoted in 1642 as saying, “But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves? ‘Charity begins at home,’ is the voice of the world.” Like most aphorisms, this holds mostly truth but leaves a gap or two in understanding (perhaps because of its intentionally concise nature).

What is home? We’d all mostly support our own families. Perhaps, we’d help a neighbor – or a neighborhood. But, when do we imagine other humans to not be of our tribe? Is it a city line, a national boundary or a continental gap?

My bride and I took to support the newly announced Ben Franklin Funds designed to support The Indianapolis Foundation in celebrating its centenary year. Following the lead of the American statesman who left small gifts for a pair of nascent colonial cities that, thanks to compound interest, matured into a big fund with even bigger philanthropic impact. In a nutshell, The Indianapolis Foundation has asked that 1,000 people donate $100 and 100 people donate $1,000 to generate $200,000,000 in 2016.

To start the party early, the Evening of 100 Dinners, June 15 or June 23, will bring together these donors to imagine a future. To give, join or host a dinner, or to learn more about the time-capsule check out www.bein2016.org/bff/.

One hundred years ago, Indianapolis did not include most of what it is today. A century from now, it might be bigger, or smaller, or gone entirely. Yet, even as we watch our own children grow towards a future that we will never see, I am optimistic that our little investment will stand as a beacon to future Hoosiers about the hope that we hold for them and our bit of earth today.


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