Bill Gates must be the epitome of the modern individualistic man turning into a through-and-through humanitarian. When contrasted with someone like Mother Teresa, judgments regarding which form of philanthropy is the better one surface automatically. In practical terms, Bill Gates has helped improve more downtrodden lives using his enormous personal wealth; nevertheless, there is an appreciation for the self-sacrifice of Mother Teresa and how her humanitarian spirit stamped an indelible universal belief in the goodness of human beings that make her rise above any practical considerations. Most would agree, though, that any kind of humanitarian effort is better than none.
There exists, quite abundantly, the form of philanthropy where people contribute to charitable causes to feel better about themselves – subconsciously, of course. These are people who want the world to know about their good deeds. Philanthropy reinforces their beliefs in their own goodness, which can turn some into lifelong philanthropists. However, just because there is a selfish component to their humanitarianism does not mean that there are no genuinely humanitarian elements in their form of philanthropy. Moreover, the contributions of these philanthropists often make it possible for others to dedicate their lives to humanitarian causes without selfish motives. Here is a form of philanthropy, while not ideal, nonetheless, does prove useful.
In truth, in today’s world, where minds are oriented from an early age towards materialism and power, it is rare to find a humanitarian without at least some selfish motives, no matter how deeply hidden in the subconscious – be it having pride in one’s accomplishments, wishing to spread one’s message, or feeling a sense of superiority through self-righteousness. Most of popular history revolves around the accomplishments of individual figures much more than collective accomplishments. In light of this, I believe that, in this world that worships individuals, ego and individuality play a prominent role in actions of virtually every person, including actions that are humanitarian in nature.
This is when the practical approach to humanitarianism becomes relevant. As you most likely cannot fully defeat your ego in your quest to become a completely self-sacrificing saint, as is only expected, it is best to channel your ego towards humanitarian goals, given that you are aware of what you are doing. If your ego motivates you to become a great speaker and spread the message of humanitarianism that would influence others to become humanitarian, then, by all means, use that drive that the ego provides, while always being aware that you are deliberately using your ego to promote and progress humanitarian efforts and not as a means to overinflate your ego or to fulfil other selfish purposes.
As long as you do not overindulge your ego, there is nothing wrong in feeling good about yourself when helping others, especially if you know that this feeling will motivate you to help even more. A happy humanitarian in control of his or her ego can do more than one plagued by an eternal struggle to defeat the ego. When you are trying to improve the world and make everyone in it happier, don’t forget about yourself as you are also a part of that world.