• Steve Berlack

When Benevolence Is Greater Than Greed

As a motivational speaker, I am always telling my audience to “broadcast

your inner champion.” By that, I mean for them to explore and identify

who they are. I remind them that they must know their familial and

cultural connections and how those connections make them who they

are. Having done that, I then ask them to explore how to branch those

connections and lessons learned out to others, thereby “broadcasting”

their self-awareness, and demonstrating the responsibility that comes with

understanding those connections.


In short, our lives, at their greatest, provide benevolence for people other

than ourselves. It is the pinnacle of the concept of yin and yang, of

reciprocity and living in spirit and purpose.


As much as I have trained to do this, and as much as my life experiences

have prepared me to teach these concepts, every once in a while I am

humbled by someone who lives them. I was so humbled when I read about

Allan Guei in the July 29, 2011 edition of The Week magazine (It Wasn’t

All Bad - page 2). From the article: Mr. Guei, a Compton High School

graduate in Los Angeles, won a free-throw contest - earning a $40,000 college

scholarship. Later, however, he received a basketball scholarship to California

State University - Northridge.


Mr. Guei was under no obligation to return the money earned from the

free-throw contest. So what did he do? Instead of keeping it for himself

(aren’t we taught to maximize our profits at all costs?), Mr. Guei donated

the contest money to the seven runners-up. Here’s what he had to say:

“I’ve already been blessed so much and I know we’re living with a bad

economy. This money can really help my classmates.”


Yes, as Americans we are taught to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,

protect our individual and family interests, and let the other guy worry

about the other guy. If “Other Guy” falls, then it was his fault anyway.

So why care? Well, thanks to Mr. Guei, we are reminded that one person

falling is everyone’s problem, either directly or indirectly. He also reminds

us that when benevolence is greater than greed, America becomes better

today than it was yesterday, and we come that much closer to the dream

promised in our Declaration of Independence. So go ahead Mr. Guei,

broadcast your inner champion.