I’m not gonna lie, y’all. It’s been a rough week. I received a letter in the mail that had a not-so-thinly-veiled death threat in response to my piece for the Lily. We took all the necessary precautions, but it took my attention off my creativity for a bit there.

But that’s nothing compared to the distress I feel about what is taking place at our borders right now. The weight of the harm that is being intentionally inflicted weighs heavy on my conscience and my heart. I am assuming it does on yours, too.

Coupla thoughts.

1. I’m reminded of something I read that Paul Farmer said to his biographer, captured in one of my favorite books, Mountains Beyond Mountains. In response to the many people who somewhat patronizingly praised him for doing good works, he said, “I’m not doing good things, I’m un-doing bad things. 

We turned to one of our alum, Melissa Rodgers, Director of Programs for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and she shared this list of six concrete actions people can take to un-do bad things.

Here are the actions we are taking:

a. The Billions Institute made a 4x matching contribution all employee donations to any of the causes listed here.

b. I just got off the phone with my wife, Christine, as we are close to making a decision about what actions we will take this weekend. The two questions we asked ourselves were, “What are the best good things might we help do more of, and what the worst bad things we might help stop?” We are leaning toward up and driving to Tornillo, Texas, for the protest this Sunday and are weighing which of our actions might have the most impact. I’ll let you know what we decide, and I’m curious how you are navigating the events this week.

c. Hugging our very young children and shielding them from even knowing that this is taking place for now. Note to policy-makers: if you wouldn’t want your children to know what you’re doing could happen to them, maybe that’s a bad idea.

Which leads me to my second thought:

2. Resilience.

I am lucky enough to call Jim Guy, Founder of the Headington Institute, my friend. Their mission is to equip humanitarian and first-responders with everything they need to cope with the trauma they will witness in the course of performing their duties. He’s thinking seriously about spread/scale for his organization so I asked him, “Exactly what is it that people can do to be more resilient in the face of trauma?” [Those of you familiar with our model know what I was getting at: what’s your turkey sandwich, my friend?]

He said, “Oh, that’s easy. We know that for sure.” [How I wish everyone knew the answer to the question as clearly as he did!] Here’s what he said, “It’s four things, and you need all four:

1. You have to have one person who you could call in the middle of the night and they won’t hang up on you. Just one.
2. You have to exercise every single day. It doesn’t matter what you do, or how much of it you do, or how difficult it is, but every single day.
3. You have to have confidence that you are well-trained, and that’s a combo both of how well-trained you actually are but also that you believe that you’re well trained.
4. You have to have a sense of purpose and meaning in your life that’s bigger than yourself. It doesn’t matter what you believe – just that you’re connected to some sense of life being bigger than just you.

So there it is, folks. Easier said than done, but when I think about what all of us who aspire to make the world a better place are up against on a daily basis, as we un-do bad things together, I thought some pointers on resilience might be helpful.

Please let us know what you and your organization are doing if you’d like to share.

Meanwhile, Keep Ya Head Up.

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