Friday, January 15, 2010

Making a Difference

Ever wonder what you might say to today's Youth if given an opportunity? I was caught a bit off guard when I was asked to speak to a remarkable young woman on the day of her Bat Mitzvah about Making a Difference. I didn't know what to say, but when I finished, I think I really did manage to boil down my beliefs into a succinct message, so I share it with you here.



Good job! Congratulations on your Bat Mitzvah and regarding your Bat Mitzvah project…Well Done!

I’ve been asked to say some words about “Make a Difference.” Let me start by saying that you are off to a great start.
You are already an outstanding person and just by being you, you have and will have a positive impact on people around you…like your mom and me.

But I wouldn’t be doing my job as one of your elders if I didn’t encourage you and challenge you to continue the harder job to make a real difference to people you don’t know, to you community, the world and even to yourself.

So, I have 3 pieces of advice to offer you today.

First, be intentional about making a difference. Helping and giving and serving, fighting for what’s right and healing our broken world…these are all things we have to be intentional about or they easily fall by the wayside.

Second, Think Big. Don’t think for a minute that you can’t have tremendous impact. It can be from merely showing a kindness to one person who needs it just at that moment. Or you might join with others to further a cause that has been years in the making that will change the course of history. At the same time, don’t be overwhelmed to inaction. Most people are.

It’s probably not common for people to quote catholic nuns at Bat Mitzvah luncheons, but…Mother Teresa said "If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one" and I think message transcends religions. Don’t let the magnitude of the task or your own self-doubt stop you from taking action.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, Get Personal. Be generous with your time and talents, not just your money. (This will make more sense later when you’re making money) It will help you find your gifts and build on them and find what it is that only you can do. At any given moment…because of who you are or where you happen to be (figuratively or maybe even literally where you’re standing) there’s something for which you are the best person for the job. And my wish for you is that you are going to be able to seize those moments and act on them. Believe me, you’re not going to catch all of them 100% of the time, but when it happens, that’s when you make the biggest difference- for others and for yourself. That makes for days that really count.

I’ve talked in nice vague ways about “taking action” and never once gave you a good solid suggestion for what kind of differences exactly that you should be making. That’s because…I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. This is for you, and only you, to figure out. You’re an adult now in your congregation and this is one of your adult decisions.

But I can leave you with some words that are helpful to me to point me to my path. Buckminster Fuller, American philosopher and futurist, said…

“The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done.”

That’s a little complicated so I’ll say it again and maybe text it to you later.

So, go…keep making a difference as you already have. Mazel Tov!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Donate to Partners in Health to help Haitian Earthquake victims

Several people have asked for my recommendations for where to donate to help with the earthquake disaster in Haiti. There are many great orgs doing heroic work (Red Cross, UNICEF and Oxfam come to mind), yet because this happened in Haiti in particular, I ask you to consider making a generous donation to Partners in Health.

Partners in Health provides medical care and social services to people in extreme poverty, especially in Haiti which is their flagship project. For many years, they have had hospitals and highly trained medical staff in place there working with a highly successful community-based model. PIH is right now bring medical assistance to areas that have been hardest hit. Because of their position and relationships there, I believe they are extremely well qualified to provide immediate and quality assistance to Haiti. Their founder, Paul Farmer, is the author of Mountains Beyond Mountains and is a powerful advocate for Global Health.

Please donate to Partners in Health

Read on to see a message from their Executive Director:

A major earthquake centered just 10 miles from Port-au-Prince has devastated sections of the city and knocked out telephone communications throughout the country. Reached via email, Partners In Health staff at our facilities in the Central Plateau report that they experienced a strong shock but no major damage or injuries. We are still attempting to establish contact with other PIH facilities and to locate several staff members who were traveling in and around Port-au-Prince.

In an urgent email from Port-au-Prince, Louise Ivers, our clinical director in Haiti, appealed for assistance from her colleagues in the Central Plateau: "Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us."

Donate now to support our earthquake relief efforts

The earthquake has destroyed much of the already fragile and overburdened infrastructure in the most densely populated part of the country. A massive and immediate international response is needed to provide food, water, shelter, and medical supplies for tens of thousands of people.

With our hospitals and our highly trained medical staff in place in Haiti, Partners In Health is already mobilizing resources and preparing plans to bring medical assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest hit.

Both our teams in Boston and Haiti are already mobilizing to deliver resources as quickly as possible to the places where they are needed most.

Donate now to support our earthquake relief efforts

Thank you for your solidarity during this crisis,

Ophelia Dahl
Executive Director - Partners in Health

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roger Thurow, author of "Enough", in Chicago

The World Beyond the Headlines is a public lecture series is a collaborative project with the University of Chicago Center for International Studies, the Seminary Coop Bookstores, and the International Global Voices Program with support from the McCormick Foundation. The program brings scholars and journalists together to consider major international news stories and how these stories are covered.

This is a FREE public lecture series at the International House (1414 East 59th Street) on the University of Chicago Campus. Roger Thurow will be appearing there. He is one of the author's of "Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty" which is a must-read for anti-poverty advocates!

Wed, March 3
Roger Thurow, Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty
For more than thirty years, humankind has known how to grow enough food to end chronic hunger worldwide. Yet while the “Green Revolution” succeeded in South America and Asia, it never reached Africa. More than nine million people every year die of hunger, malnutrition, and related diseases every year—most of them in Africa and most of them children. More die of hunger in Africa than from AIDS and malaria combined. Now, an impending global food crisis threatens to make things worse. In the West we think of famine as a natural disaster, brought about by drought or as the legacy of brutal dictators. But in this powerful investigative narrative, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman show exactly how, in the past few decades, American, British, and European self-interest and neglect have left Africa unable to feed itself. As a new generation of activists work to stop famine from spreading, Enough is essential reading on a humanitarian issue of utmost urgency. Co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies, the Program on the Global Environment and the Seminary Co-op Bookstores.
This event is free and open to the public.
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm, Home Room