“Trying to set a new standard for gallantry,” billionaire Ted Turner announced to a delighted gathering of United Nations supporters that he would donate one billion dollars to U.N. efforts “to help the poorest people of the world”.
And although Mr. Turner has enjoyed many personal successes- creating the Cable News Network, becoming vice-chair of Time Warner, and experiencing a World Series win with his Atlanta Braves- he says ” I’ve never been happier or more pleased with myself than I am today.” He concluded, “It’s the joy of giving.”
The notion of the huge award came to him after two events overlapped- He was searching for the right remarks to make at the U.N. event honoring him for global leadership…and he had just seen his financial statement which showed him to be exactly a billion dollars richer than he had been just nine months before. And he thought, “wouldn’t it be exciting to just give it all away.”
In an interview with CNN talk-show host, Larry King, Turner explained his latest spontaneous act of generosity this way: “It’s a nice round number, and I’m no poorer than I was nine months ago”. He likened his experience to that of Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens’ fictional character. “Remember…when he started doing things to help Tiny Tim’s impoverished family?… His whole attitude changed and he was so happy.”
He will set up a foundation to work with U.N. committees. He sees this way that the money does not go to administrative costs, and insists,”that’s why the United States has still got to pay up what it owes”, which is $1 billion in back dues. Turner, 58, admires the U.N.’s reach and the fact that “it covers virtually the entire human condition, everything from land mines, nuclear weapons, environment, population, poverty, disease and inoculating children…”
Turner said he knows that giving is something people need to work at when everyone loves their money so much. He has always donated a tenth of his income, mostly to support environmental concerns, and that will continue. But he’s just learned how to give by experiencing firsthand the joy that comes with heartfelt giving. His wife, Jane Fonda “broke into tears” when he told her of his plans, “I’m so proud to be married to you,” she said.
Is he optimistic? He believes the world is experiencing a “new dawn of an age of enlightenment, where war is becoming a thing of the past. Democracy and free enterprise are winning out all over the world. Things are really looking up,” he beamed. (Sometimes a great notion….Thanks to people like him!)