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Action star Jet Li has revealed his ideas about philanthropy to INSEAD Knowledge, a business research website.

“In 1997 I started thinking about the meaning of life,” he told INSEAD during the recent Global Social Innovators Forum in Singapore, where he received the SIP Distinguished Fellow Award. “Why do we live? What do people hope to gain from living? Regardless of whether you’re Chinese, European or Asian … I think every living thing desires happiness. People feel anxious and insecure because they lack happiness.”

The star founded the One Foundation to help victims of natural disasters after almost drowning on the Maldives during the 2004 Asian tsunami.

“In the past seven years, my understanding of life – of which the tsunami was one of the driving forces – was that one shouldn’t wait for retirement before helping others… We position the One Foundation as an engine to drive charitable activities in the 21st century. If we can accumulate one-dollar donations, we would be able to effectively address the natural disasters in the world.”

The One Foundation – which has partnered with the Red Cross – has become one of the leading charities in China. But natural disasters are not the only cause on Li’s mind. The Foundation also addresses youth suffering from mental health problems, and Li is also interested in appealing to people’s inner soul to help alleviate poverty.

“Governments around the world are trying to resolve poverty but none of them can successfully achieve it. We don’t expect NGOs to achieve such a goal. Rather we’re building a platform to get people to express what’s in their hearts.”

Li also indicated his hope that the One Foundation survives after he has gone: “Regardless of whoever heads the One Foundation in the future, the importance is that people identify with the spirit and ideals of the foundation. That’s the ownership for everyone not just Jet Li.”

The One Foundation has led Li to a place where he can be at peace with himself while encouraging people to find happiness through giving.

“Because I’ve learnt that life and death are naturally unavoidable, I’ve learnt to live happily and to the fullest every day. Because I’m happy and have no pressure on myself, I can choose to produce or not to produce movies, and I can choose to do or not to do charity work. But I choose to share my happiness with others.

“Actually what I’m really asking for is not money. Rather it’s the heart. What’s in your heart, your love, your kindness and your goodness. Everyone has it, but most of the time we just put that into our families, but I’m asking people to spread their kindness to others.”

A video of the full interview can be found at the INSEAD website.

Source: INSEAD Knowledge

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