Pro Bono

Pro Bono is a Latin term meaning “for the good.” This expression came to mind as I read an essay by G.K. Chesterton comparing two groups of people: the miserly and the thrifty. Thrift, Chesterton argues, is a virtue while the miserly life is miserable.

A thrifty person is one who maximizes resources for their thriving and the thriving of those they may serve. “Thrift,” Chesterton says, “in itself is always a thirst to make all things thrive, animal, vegetable, or mineral; to make them prosper and produce; to prevent their being wasted, or, in other words, destroyed.”

The thrifty person multiplies her resources. The miser hides all within their reach. The miser’s resources rust and rot behind a facade of being thrifty. But thrift seeks thriving. A miser guards, saves, protects, buries, resources keeping them from doing any good at all. Their treasures waste away tucked in the pristine cell of a savings account. They will be divided among strangers one day.

The miser is like the control freak, in the end they loose what they crave most. The person obsessed with control ends up losing control not gaining it. The person obsessed with accumulating and saving money ends up wasting it not saving it. As Chesterton teaches us, “the miser is not a more thrifty man but a much less thrifty man, for he wastes money more than a spendthrift.”

Are you miserly or thrifty? How are you using your resources to help others thrive?