The spirit of the holiday season is now spreading all over the world. For most people, this is a time of good will. I believe that we should take the good will of the holiday season into our everyday lives. It is possible to give back to the community, to inspire the spirit of giving in all of us through everything we do: personal, business, philanthropic - in every aspect of our lives.
Many years ago, I tried to understand what my calling was and arrived each time at the same answer: world peace. I am not a prime minister and I do not intend to be a prime minister, so what is my connection with world peace? How can I contribute to world peace? But then I received a message: to achieve peace in the world, each one of us must achieve peace within ourselves and with our surroundings. Peace begins within us.
I commissioned an international study to check the means by which to facilitate this change. We examined programs for rehabilitating prisoners, educational programs in schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, and more. After about a year and a half of searching and review, I realized that all of the methods--both conventional and alternative--are used in Israel. Since I believe that each of us can attain inner peace, and is personally responsible for this, I understood that my contribution is to spread the message and to make the path to change more accessible.
Which path, however, do we choose? Each person is entitled to choose the path that is most suitable and correct for themselves. Therefore, I decided to create a pluralistic organization that includes representation of and references to these numerous methods and various paths. Through this organization, each person can choose what best suits him, can find his path to inner peace, and thus plant the seeds for world peace. This is how the Essence of Life organization was created. It is a non-profit organization that is entirely financed from the family's funds via the Ted Arison Family Foundation, and works to raise awareness and provide tools for inner peace, in accordance with the vision we have formulated.
I also worked to promote a policy of contributing to the community -- through mobilization, of course, and not through coercion. I brought Matan, an organization that encourages businesses to give back to the community, into Bank Hapoalim. I wanted everyone to understand how important it is in my view to give back to the community in which we live, because we are the community and the community is us -- and to understand that giving is more than just a supreme value and obligation. Giving promotes a feeling of camaraderie among the workers and a knowledge that they are working for a place they can be proud of, a worthy place that has important messages and principles. Today, in my tours of the bank, when I see employees for whom each customer is important, who sit in branches that have a uniform and orderly appearance, who are proud of their giving --I feel great joy.
I began to understand that the business world is no less important than philanthropy, and perhaps even more so. It means investment in the State of Israel, creating employment for thousands of people, livelihoods for countless families. I realized that the bank is part of my mission, that there is a reason I am here, that I have a platform from which I can create change that can influence, in ever-expanding circles, the country and the world. It is perhaps a difficult burden, but I have a purpose, and I must fulfill it. However, I am not alone. We all can contribute to this cause.
In my new book, Birth, my goal is to share the path I have traveled in the spiritual sphere and in the business and philanthropic sphere, in order to reveal the essential connection between the two. In Birth, I explore the nature of the new world we are approaching with my business-spiritual model, a new model for a new world. This view will enable individuals, companies and even nations to move from collapse to positive change, and bring together the spiritual and the material, giving birth to a new future.
The State of Israel is not unique. Every country in the world faces the same issues we face here, either physically or morally. I feel we all have a stake in our community as much as we do in our own spirits, and seeking avenues of generosity is the direct path to peace among us. Whether it's an anonymous donation to charity, or a face-to-face, hands-on gift like helping a person in need in your neighborhood, we can each transfer a little of our positive energy toward greater ends.
About Shari Arison:
Shari Arison is an American-Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist. Arison is repeatedly ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the world's wealthiest women, and was also ranked by Forbes among the world's 50 most influential women in 2008. In both 2007 and 2009, Shari Arison was chosen as Woman of the Year by Globes, one of Israel's leading financial newspapers.
Arison heads the Arison Group, a business and philanthropic group made up of leading corporations including Israel's leading bank, Bank Hapoalim, Shikun & Binui, one of the largest real estate and infrastructures companies in Israel, and Salt Industries Ltd. She is also the founder of Miya, the Arison Group's global water company.