The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self- sufficient. But our systems of state charity - aka welfare - have too frequently had the opposite effect: they have actually created dependency. It is time to re-think the way we help people.
I had always thought I could never be a great doctor because I felt too emotionally bound to my patients. It was impossible for me to hold back tears when feeling that gut wrenching empathy for families mourning the passing of their loved ones. Because it always seemed as if I were the only resident moved by these scenes, I reasoned that this was an unprofessional impulse.
The purpose of the socially entrepreneurial University can therefore be said to be to make society more equal and just through the values and decisions of our graduates. The debate on values then becomes re-centred on what values we wish to develop in our graduating students, and thus into social entrepreneurship that we create? Here are some suggestions.
I don't think anyone seriously denies that welfare reform of some sort is necessary, whether to reduce waste and fraud, to re-establish proper incentive for the unemployed to look for work, or to help restore order to public finances. Around these basic points there's consensus. The question is, however, reforms at what cost, and to whom?
As the Dalai Lama shares his message of dialogue and compassion in the UK in the coming days, we might find ourselves wondering whether a compassionate outlook can really be a driving force in our political, economic and social institutions.