George Soros is considered to be one of the biggest philanthropists in the world. He has given over 32 billion of his own fortunes to fund Open Society Foundations around the world. The idea of having open societies in the whole world is one that is close to his heart. He doesn’t just give to support the idea, he has taken an active role to see that the idea is embraced and practised.
George Soros first encountered the idea of open societies while reading the book Open societies and its enemies by Karl Popper while in college. In this book, Karl popper explained that there is no absolute idea, truth or philosophy. He explained that for any society or government to flourish, there has to be democratic governance, the people have to be free to express themselves and their rights respected. Karl Popper’s idea of open society was a revelation to Mr Soros. Having come from a closed society, this idea was so practical to him.
George Soros is a Hungarian Jew. He grew up during the Nazi occupation and experience first-hand what ‘absolute philosophy’ can do to a people. He saw thousands of Jewish families be killed and discriminated at this time. His family managed to escape by concealing their past and acquiring new identification papers. When this worked out for them, they set out to help other families do the same. This saw his family help out a lot of Jewish families. This saw the birth of his desire to see closed societies opened and open societies functioning better.
In 1947, Mr Soros moved to America where he had a career of a railway porter as well as a night club waiter to cater for his education at London school of economics. He later joined the world of finance investments where he made his fortune. Once he made more than he needed, he founded the open society foundations, OSF. OSF is a network of foundations, partners and projects that run in over 100 countries across the world. The main objectives of this foundation are; to open up closed societies, help open societies function better and ensure that human rights are respected in governments.
The whole venture is based on Karl Popper’s book. Through OSF, George Soros has been able to facilitate organizations whose objectives are aligned with theirs. He says, when working with organizations in communist countries, it’s quite easy since they already know what open society is and what they need to do and all OSF does is facilitate.
OSF has also seen thousands of students go to schools and colleges. They provide school fees for students who face discrimination based on who they are or where they live. Through this venture, he has been able to help the Roma people living in Europe, sex workers and LGBTIs. Because of the Idea Open Society Foundation stands for, it has attracted support from many people who dedicated to bettering governing systems in the world. Kofi Annan says that what makes Mr Soros’ initiative so effective is the fact that it seeks to change minds and not circumstances. By fostering critical thinking, he has been able to see societies become more open and viable.
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