Give me a dollar. Or ten. Give me some money, for no particular reason other than you would like me to have it.

Okay, forget about money, it distracts you from thinking about me. It makes you think about what you can buy for yourself.

Give me the shoes, you’ve just bought. Give me your new microwave. Okay, give me your old microwave, you don’t need it anyway. I don’t even like those shoes. But my neighbor would love them. I will give your shoes to my neighbor. I will be grateful to you; my neighbor will be grateful to me and consequently grateful to you. This will make you feel good.

Okay, forget about stuff. Give me your time, your kidney, your convenience. It may feel bad in the beginning, but eventually it will make you feel good.

Okay, forget about me. Give something to someone, you don’t know. Because someone is dying on the other side of the Globe while you are drinking your morning coffee. Maybe, someone’s life can be saved for the monthly cost of your morning coffee.

Make a donation. Voluntarily.  That means – for no particular reason other than you would like someone to have it. Not because it will be written off your taxes.

But will it be truly voluntarily if I asked you for the donation? I described what your contribution would mean for the world and how ugly the world would be without it. Now you feel bad about the world. You also feel bad about yourself. Because you can’t contribute enough. Or you can’t contribute at all. Because chances are – like most of us, you are about to become a charity case yourself. And if you are relatively stable – you can’t give much. And if you are rich – you can’t give enough to save the world. Your morning coffee can save one starving child, but millions of others will die. No money can save the world.

You can’t save every struggling one. You can maybe save one. Or ten. You still can help. This will make you feel good.

If you see a drowning child, you will probably rush into the water without pausing even to pull off that expensive pair of shoes. That will make you a hero. And we all will feel better. If you put the cost of your shoes ahead of the child's life and wait for someone else to jump in the water – that will make you a monster and scare us all.  If you saved the child, but still are grieving for the ruined footwear – that makes you a human. And you still can feel good about yourself.

It is normal that you are more willing to help one drowning child in sight than millions suffering in faraway countries. Because this is what you can do, see the outcome and feel good about.

But you still feel bad for the rest of the world, you can’t save. And you are constantly reminded: “Give!” - in the stores, in the streets, “Donate!” - on the phone, TV and radio, “Rescue!” – on the Internet, “Help!” – in your mail.  Give, help, donate, rescue, and you will feel better. You even receive free stuff as a pledge for your future generous donation. You hardly use address labels and shopping lists anymore, but they send it to you and you don’t know what to feel. Free supplies should give you a good feeling, but not returning the expected imbursement makes you feel cheap and dishonest.  And now the March of Dimes mails you real coins with requests to return the dimes with a more significant contribution. You don’t even return the dime (forget about the check) and you feel like a crook. You use the coins in a vending machine and expect to be arrested for stealing all the dimes, light-headedly sent to piggish American households. You are trying to do the math and to figure out how many Twinkies were purchased for the charity dimes, and how much good those dimes might do if applied directly to the charity. You can’t do this math and it makes you even more depressed.

Because you are a good person. You are not cheap and mean. You are just reasonable. And reasonably you are trying to save your dimes for a rainy day. And speaking of rain – it is pouring now. And it naturally affects your generosity. It’s like: if you had two kidneys, you would’ve definitely given me one. But right now you are running on your last one. So instead of soliciting you I should bother that exclusive people who happened to have three kidneys. The ones with needless extras. Oh, don’t worry; of course I will bother them. And I sure did.

People with extra giving power… Some of them are heroes. They feel so bad for staying dry in the rain; they don’t wait for me to plead. They give. And they give anonymously. And they feel good.

Some of them are humans. They never keep the charity’s dime. Plus, they contribute – in exchange for some good publicity. As three-kidneyed humans, they consider themselves a special needs case. Because they need some extras.

And there are monsters. A real special needs case. Let’s think, they are handicapped, born with a disabled altruism gene.

Let’s think, altruism is a gene, and it makes our brain's reward center light up when we give. And let’s admit that giving is selfish. It makes us feel good about ourselves. That’s why we donate (apart from the tax deductions). But if it can help to better the world – let it be selfish.

Just give me a dollar. I will consider it your fair attempt to save the world. And you will feel good.