Wednesday, March 11, 2009

making a difference...

"I came upon a beach where thousands and thousands of starfish had washed up on the shore. I saw an old man walking along picking them up one by one and throwing them one by one back into the sea. I went down and asked the old man what he was doing. He said, "I'm throwing these starfish back into the water, for without the water, they can not breath and they will die." I said, "But there must be thousands of these starfish here. What makes you think it will make any difference?"

The old man picked up another starfish, tossed it back into the sea, turned and looked at me and said. "Well my brother you see, it made a difference to that one." -- Making a noise in this world. Darrel Whitewolf
It was Margaret Mead who stated..... "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has," and I couldn't agree more. Our humanness is no greater or no less than any other human being who has stepped forward into the melange of global need. We all have the capacity to be the committed citizen. We may have different gifts to offer than the next person, but they are gifts that can impact change.

There is an overwhelming sense of doom out there that creeps like an hyper stimulated vine over all aspects of life as we know it. The economic woes thrown at us in stories of the latest businesses shutting up shop, of the increase in welfare numbers, unemployment, of the ever shrinking opportunities to pull ourselves out of the muck of a recession leave us all feeling like starfish gasping for our lives for one reason or another. Threats of more job cuts, people facing personal bankruptcy and losing their homes are all real. Its enough to make us all feel like starfish washed up on shore and zapped of energy. It's very stressful and it seems like there is no way of getting away from this particular creeping vine.

Which makes it all the more reason to figure out new ways to move forward and maybe even make some much needed changes in our thinking and doing. Maybe this recession which i don't believe has reached its zenith whatsoever will be so critical in nature that we will be faced with a chance to grab hold of its cathartic potential and begin to recognize ourselves as the committed citizen. Our collective sense of entitlement, our insatiable need to spend, hoard, collect, buy will be cut off at the knees.

Somethings gotta give. Our personal woes don't even match the reality of what is happening beyond our streets.....The inbalance in this world makes the tilt a whirl seem like a walk in the park. 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

  • Of the 2.2 billion children in this world, 1 billion live in poverty.
  • According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty.

And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”

  • Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
  • More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
  • Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
  • 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)

    We may be feeling stress and we may be feeling a sense of turmoil in our lives.....but it's nothing compared to 80 percent of the rest of the world. Poverty happens when every single choice is stripped away. Poverty is when the road ends at a desert of dry tears, where weeping has lost the taste salt. Poverty claims the soul of humanity with retching reality. Poverty is not something that happens to others because what happens to others happens to us all. It is our problem. It IS our responsibility to fix.

    Time to look outward. Time to ACT. Time to get to the beach....time to assume the role of committed citizen..... you gifts are sorely needed. Take a friend along too, will you. The more hands the better.


    Tabitha in Bliss said...

    Amen and Amen!!

    Jennifer said...

    Thank you for writing this.


    myrtle beached whale said...

    great post. I love the Starfish story.

    Gilly said...

    I feel so helpless - there seems so little I can dok and yet I am so very aware of the things you have talked about. I feel as though I am struggling against a huge shoal of starfish!

    I do help specific charities that work against poverty, lack of water, and a medical charity. What more can I do. I can't march with a placard, my MP is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative out of the ark. I don't get out among the general public in order to convert some to a cause.

    I do pray, when I can. Having trouble with the idea of prayer, and God, at the moment.

    All power to your elbow over in Canada!

    Selma said...

    I have heard the starfish analogy before and it continues to make a huge impact on me. Now more than ever, we need to band together to try and make a difference. It is possible for one person to start a groundswell. Thanks for writing this.

    Awareness said...

    Tabitha...and so it goes...'re very welcome. see you soon if you are the Jenn I'm thinking you are. too. I first read it a while back on my emerald friend Pip's blog and I was so taken by it. Then, I took a few shots of starfish and thought i'd post it here... is very difficult to figure out how to help because it does seem so darn monumental. However, I believe we can all do something....small efforts add up. I believe one of the most important offerings is to promote awareness with pass on the information. There are many organizations that could benefit from volunteers with their fundraising and awareness campaigns....Ammesty International is a good one and often do letter writing campaigns. Getting involved in local politics too, working in the campaign offices answering phones and stuffing all helps. Missionary work through churches...there is always bazaars and suppers (there are around here) who would never pass up some baking or a casserole to serve. Every little bit counts. It really does. What is cool about getting involved at the grassroots is that you meet new people with similar passions and interests. Unicef is a very good one too!! really is possible and it doesn't matter how old a person is. There is a young man here in Canada who began his awareness campaign and fight against child labour when he was only 12 years old!!! Now it's an international movement that he and his brother spearhead... his name is Craig Keilburger. Amazing man! Every kid in middle school in this city knows about him because people who work with the organization come every year to give interactive presentations.... the kids are HOOKED and very very interested.

    Walker said...

    It only takes a small noise to start an avalanch

    Awareness said...

    Walker...especially when the timing is right. Your comment automatically made me think of those skiers who chose to ski off course...the quiet schussing of their skis started up that avalanche.

    To look at your comment from an activist is timing too because people only have a small window of interest when it comes to being receptive to an issue. One light touch suggestion at the right time can rally people like nothing else can. And it doesn't always take a person in a leadership role to do it though it helps. But, an ordinary average person can create this as well. It all depends on the venue, the timing, the chosen words, the use of an imagination as to how the message is provided and how the person is received by others. If the issue is one that seems like its frozen and stuck and nothing can be done to fix or alter it, people can't get their heads around possibility. So, it takes a new person with a new angle with the right timing to convey it with a few chosen words.
    No one likes to be banged over the head with a gavel filled with guilt producing angst and repetitive chants. We tune out.
    We make differences by connecting with meeting them halfway in an open minded forum of respect and an openness to listen.

    In my opinion most advocates and activist don't get this nuance. They are too fired up by the issue to see they need to nuture the audience.

    Awareness said...

    ok....i see your words/comments have stared an avalanche in ME!!! Way to go!! I need to blog this baby.