Researching who among the wealthy honored their giving pledges, Forbes Magazine recently released a list of the top 50 philanthropists in 2016. Number three on that list of 50 is George Soros, is the premier role model for what has become known as Active Philanthropy. He has donated his wealth for over three decades to large-scale pro-democracy endeavors around the world. George Soros’ commitment to this worldwide targeted funding comes from childhood experiences that shaped his life philosophy.
Childhood Spent Under Nazi & Russian Occupation
Soros was born and raised in a Jewish family that survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary. It is this experience that formed his deep and abiding belief in open society. “In my definition”, he writes, “an open society is an imperfect society that holds itself open to improvement.” The alternative is a closed society, expressed by religious fundamentalism or political dogma, that sees itself as always right and never wrong. Alternative ideas in a closed society are rejected and silenced. George Soros believes humanity is better off in an open society that welcomes alternative ideas and embraces change.
Fostering Democratic Societies Through Open Society Foundations
To that end, Soros has donated more than $32 billion over his lifetime to create the Open Society Foundations. The Open Society Foundation became a network of foundations, partners, and projects in more than 100 countries. He began his philanthropy in 1979 by giving scholarships to black South Africans under apartheid, created Central European University, and later expanded to support projects in Africa, Latin America, United States, and Asia. His philanthropy, in all these countries, supported efforts to create and maintain more accountable, transparent, and democratic societies. In 2017 George Soros pledged $18 billion of his wealth to Open Society Foundations. In doing so, OSF became the largest foundation in the world second only to Gates Foundation. The $18 billion will secure the continuance of Soros’ life’s work of growing and maintaining democratic societies.
Standing Firm for Free Societies Despite Detractors
Giving large sums to influence societal change has garnered detractors. Those who are uneasy about the pro-immigration stand of George Soros and his liberal politics have frequently criticized and attacked his philanthropy. In 2017 the Hungarian government attempted to pass legislation to close the Soros-funded Central European University and launched a year long campaign denouncing him and his pro-immigration advocacy. In the United States, he has been attacked for his funding of gay rights, legalization of marijuana and liberal political campaigns. Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president who led America through its greatest internal challenge to its democratic ideals, said: “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” Like Lincoln, Soros has planted his feet firmly in an abiding belief in open free societies and made it his life’s work to protect and grow the seeds of democracy and free speech throughout the world.
To Learn More : twitter.com/georgesoros