Monday, December 1, 2008

Another celebrity philanthropist

I miss my subscription to Time magazine which ended recently ... I thought it was a "times are tough" cut-back that I needed make, but since a friend forwarded me this article from the most recent issue, I realize how much I miss the weekly magazine I found in my mailbox on Saturdays.

Here's the story of actor Jet Li, who is teaching compassion and civic duty in a modern, Westernized China. Li's One Foundation is a partnership with the Red Cross Society of China. At the core of the foundation's philosophy is: “1 person + 1 dollar/yuan + 1 month = 1 big family”. The actor hasn't made many movies lately, as the article reports, to reprise the "major themes of his life — self-sacrifice, service and discipline."

Knowing we have a few Chinese students at the Center on Philanthropy and another fellow blogger who's also an Asia studies scholar, I'm interested to know what others think.

1 comment:

KJA said...

I am fascinated by the boldness of this initiative. If Jet Li can convince his fellow countrymen to donate a mere 1 yuan per month, imagine the possibilities and outcomes. Keep in mind that individual philanthropy among the masses in China is still a relatively new phenomenon. I've always thought that philanthropy truly has the possibility of changing the world if EVERYONE is involved, not just the wealthy few. Incredible if China beats everyone to that punch. Of course, it remains to be seen if Jet Li and other celebrities helping him can pull it off.

I would caution, however, describing China in terms of "modernized" and/or "Western." Both could be considered patronizing (modernized), inaccurate (Western) or oversimplified, at best!! In all contexts, including philanthropy. While Jet Li's foundation may be borrowing certain Western-style philanthropic and marketing elements at the moment (he is, after all, no stranger to Hollywood!), it will be interesting to track its progress (and success) in the years to come, and to see what type of philanthropic style emerges!