Sure, but I find it’s not my cup of tea.
Do you think you would be able to sustain this level of work over a prolonged period of time?
No, for the same reasons that the last two are. The people that make furniture for me make it for me because we need it for work, and we don’t have a lot of other options.
Where do you make your money?
I get a lot of it from my customers’ donations, and a lot of it from my own sales of furniture and other items I make.
When you say you get your money from people’s donations, you mean you buy their products, but you don’t sell them?
That’s right. My goal is to make as much money as I can selling furniture, so that the money raised from those products ultimately goes into the company instead of to charity.
The idea of people who donate their money for the good of others seems incredibly counterintuitive. I’m trying to understand your thinking.
I used to always have the feeling that my donations made the world better in some way — I got to help people who had nothing to offer me and had nothing to give back. But I came to realize that while these people may have had a bad day, their problems didn’t matter as much as I did, so it didn’t affect me as much as they did. And that makes it so that even the stuff I don’t need is something to take and get back.
This doesn’t sound like a charity-driven philosophy to me.
What does charity mean to you?
My idea of charity is that you give to help others and you get back to help them in some way. You’re helping them make something nice or to give them something to have good memories of.
I’m assuming you aren’t an altruist, but are you open to a degree of conflict?
Yes and no. I don’t like war, but I have to have money and I’m forced to do things. When I see people do horrible things it bothers me, but it’s not as much trouble as I would like it to be. And I’m not necessarily against war or killing, it’s just the nature of human society that war and killing is something the whole animal gets into as a matter of course.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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