Prosperity to me is both physical and mental. Physical prosperity is what we have accumulated: our health, keeping fit, and longevity. However, we cannot enjoy our physical well-being without mental health. Mental health can mean different things. It can be enshrined by a personal vision of what a belief system is, guided by spirituality, family, intellectual curiosity, and/or participating in civil society, and to give back to make a difference. Prosperity is about being true to oneself and finding personal peace. It is hard.
The balance between physical, mental, and societal prosperity that makes people “happy” naturally evolves during the course of one’s life. For me, it is a personal journey. It is about being true to myself and doing the very best I can. It is about building a meaningful life and making a difference in the world. But how does one go about executing a personal vision?
It has been said that to “those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” I have dedicated time and resources throughout my life to causes that reflect a set of personal values: protection for the most fragile in society, fostering endeavor, and respect for institutions. Charity is important. It is our responsibility to engage. It is our responsibility to give back. It is an obligation. I have aspired to reflect these values in my philanthropy, community engagement, and my business to advance both meaning in life and prosperity.
The Parable of the Five Talents has also been an important guide to me. It was the person who buried the money and did nothing with it who was admonished. What does it teach us? It teaches us the value of hard work and that success is a product of doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Doing nothing is not an option; doing something is an obligation.
I believe society and individuals have a duty to provide a safety net for those unable to take care of themselves. We need to provide a framework to enable people to meet their potential to contribute to society and to foster a sense of self-worth. Just as importantly, we need to honor and respect the institutions that form our social fabric, including the judiciary, police, military, and religion. For me, being a conduit to help unlock potential is vital. It is exciting and deeply rewarding to help others succeed and prosper.
I believe education is critically important, as it is education that enabled me to succeed. That is why I work with centers of education and engage in the battle of ideas. The armed forces and educational establishments I attended opened my eyes to the world and inspired me to achieve. That is why I have given back to them, as well as to a number of schools and youth organizations, among them those that have had a positive impact on my family and me.
I believe spirituality and religion can provide a moral compass that allows society to survive and flourish. To that end, I also have given to a number of religious charities, which can provide important spiritual and educational foundations for their communities.
For me, civic engagement in public policy is likewise an important part of contributing to the development of society and its prosperity. Despite the more threatening side of social media and the unpleasantness of trolling, I believe it is a necessary part of my engagement to support political institutions that best reflect my vision of society. It is about the battle of ideas. It is through debate that all sides of the polity spectrum will achieve a better outcome and greater prosperity for society as a whole.
We must all take individual responsibility to look after others; it is our obligation to give back. It is our obligation to engage. It requires vision, hard work, and discipline.
At heart, I am an optimist. I always have been. But optimism is not an excuse for complacency. I believe the solution lies in education, the fostering of enterprise, the creation of aspiration, and for all of us to work hard for the common good and achieve greater prosperity for society as a whole.