I have this persistent nagging sense that I’m not doing enough to make the world a better place. Is it just me? Or do you feel that way too, sometimes?
I feel that way a lot.
I go into a spiral worried about of all the things that are happening with global warming and then I think when you add a history of systemic violence and racism on top of that, sheesh – things are bad and they’re gonna get worse! And I want to do so much but I don’t know where to start.
It’s not particularly helpful for me to be in this state of mind. I mean, I know better. I know that this is just a “flee-forward” taking me out the present moment.
And yet…I do this all. the. time.
Last Sunday I was unusually despondent and my wife, Christine, said, “You know…maybe what you’re doing that is most helpful is through the Billions Institute – the things you love to do the most?….Maybe?”
Me: Nah. That’s not enough…it’s just not. (continues complaining about the future).
Christine (wisely) goes about doing something else around the house while I wallow in my doom and gloom.
This week a dear friend from my 100,000 Homes Campaign days, Linda Kaufman, was our house guest. Linda is an Episcopalian Priest and she told us about a time when she, too, felt despair. Her mentor told her, “Linda, as a Christian, you don’t have the luxury of despair.” Basically her mentor told her this: get your butt back to work.
You don’t have the luxury of despair.
Today I visited my acupuncturist and told her about my concerns and how I want to do something but I don’t know what. I said I’m especially worried about refugees and building my “welcoming muscles.”
Oh, she says, a friend of mine has helped settle five Syrian refugee families into Claremont over the past couple of years. Want me to put you in touch with her?
Sometimes it’s not about large-scale change. Sometimes it’s about blooming where you’re planted. That’s true for me at least.
I’ll get to my point now! This afternoon I received an email from Willemijn Keizer at the Southern Poverty Law Center. She came through our Skid Row School over a year ago. They’ve been working around the clock to help immigrants know their rights especially given the increase in ICE arrests and raids. They came up with this brilliant, creative, dare I say subversive idea: why not embed their rights into a song? And why not have a Latin Grammy award winning band, Flor de Toloache, sing that song? And maybe we should pump that song into communities where there are a lot of improper and illegal arrests being made.
How awesome is that?
We like to say at the Skid Row School that when it comes to large-scale change, there are “many ways to many.” Willemijn just dropped the mic on that one. And she wrote me a note to appreciate us for our (very small) role in provoking her and her friends at the Southern Poverty Law Center to think out of the box.
Which reminds me of the purpose of this letter: it’s never enough…but sometimes you get a high five. Willemijn – thank you for that high five! I needed that this week! Now that my heart is full with that high five (and tapping to the beat of El Corrido de David y Goliat) I want to offer to everyone who gets this newsletter this provocation: reach out to somebody who has encouraged or inspired you along the way and give them a high five before the day is done. Ready, go!