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Bill Clinton Shares Oprah’s Stage: Giving is Living

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Oprah's new season (you can tell by the new do) sees her looking more the glam girl than ever. Just in time for Bill Clinton to pay a surprise visit. He called to ask if she might interview him. Huh? Miss Oprah was made speechless by this auspicious call. She told the audience that she was at a loss for words at this protocol: what to call Bill?

Regardless, on September 4, 2007, he shared Oprah’s stage to talk about his new book, Giving. This is not a book review but a motive review. Naturally there was mention of the glow that his aura casts on his wife’s campaign. His book is out today in bookstores and his wife today is out on the campaign trail.

What is giving?  Indians here and in India call giving “seva” — it literally means service. Giving can be of many types. And the onus is on the giver to find the way that is right for them. It takes some research and soul searching. But that should not stop people from giving or living a life that includes giving to others. Oprah also invited Andre Agassi who has begun an academy. His service to others is on a highly personal level, bringing hope to mostly minority African American students. While Clinton’s focus is funds and raising money to help those unable to help themselves, we should bear in mind that service or giving comes in many forms. Teachers who teach in inner city environs like myself have to give up a great deal of personal space and attention to young people who are starving for attention from people that they (won’t admit) deeply respect.  

I have written before about charity and how it is easy on the tax return and benefits the very rich as well as the very poor.  I have my misgivings and suspicions about those who give money or throw money at poor countries. The field is rife with scandal as well as misuse by ministries who specialize in portraying sad black faces with runny noses living in places that have holes in the walls as well as the floors. You want to give, but dare you? Oprah mentions at the end of the book Giving there is a list of reputable organizations to which one can donate time and money.

Finally, I have to be true to myself as a staunch Buddhist believer in rebirth. I write (not preach) these lovely sentiments with one caveat: what you give will come back to you. Or, by karmic definition, that you will have to come back to reap what you have given or taken. Many people think that the world would be a better place if everyone believed or knew (as I do) that life is deeply circuitous and not simply linear. Perception is reality and we seem to live neat linear existences going from point A to point B — punctuated at both ends with life’s exclamation point and death’s period. Life does not end at the end nor does it start at the beginning. Everyone has to live their best life and know that someone is watching even if it is one’s own soul.  

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