Tag Archives: change

Life in a Jar

Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.

-Irena Sendler

For an aged woman of 91 at the time of her death, Irena Sendler had seen firsthand more despair, hatred and injustice than most of us can see in a lifetime. A polish woman growing up in Warsaw and the surrounding areas Irena was submerged in the anti-semitic culture of Europe during the Holocaust. Her life was normal from the outside looking in, and she seemed to be the average young polish woman who just wanted to pursue a nursing career so she could follow in her father’s footsteps by being part of the medical field… she was anything but that.

Her father not only passed along his love for medicine but also a deeply rooted belief that all person’s have dignity and that if you see a person drowning, “must try to rescue them, even if you cannot swim.” Irena took that wisdom to heart and as the Holocaust raged more and more inhuman each day she decided she would no longer stand against justice by doing nothing.

Irena’s fight for the Jewish people started in 1939 when she and her tiny army of fighters created fake documents for many Jews living in Poland. Her fight did not end there though, by the end of 1942 Irena had successfully smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto either by traveling through the sewer systems or hiding the very young ones in her medical bag.

The life of this polish woman is not just a story about doing what is right or even about finding justice for others, it is a story that drips with a desire to see all of humanity live with dignity. She did not see the Jewish people as a lesser race, she did not find them distasteful or deserving of death- she saw people, in need of what she could offer.

Irena speaks about her experiences during World War II as if she were not a hero, many quotes you find from her talk about how she is just the opposite. A person who did not do something extraordinary, but one who did something that should be very ordinary.

How are we, as ordinary people, doing ordinary things… make an extraordinary difference? Irena saved the lives of thousand of children, careful to write down their names, their parents names and where they were going and then protected that information, she buried her jars of thin tissue paper under apple trees. This allows to look back on to see the impact… the lives of thousands and thousands of people are now changed forever… because someone did something ordinary.

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Life in a Jar

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Filed under Human Interest, Women's History Month

“I wanted to see dignity.”

Today was a great day.

This is true for a number of reasons, least of which was my being 3 hours late to work as a result of very mysterious pains that are still plaguing me. It’s fine, it leaves me with two options… get better or die, I’m not ready for the latter so it’s apparent to me that I’ll just lock it up and eventually the mystery pain will go away.

However, my reasons as to why today was a great day DOES include a certain phone call Suzanne and I had with Becky and Jody from The Adventure Project.

What. Phenomenal. Women.

Continuing our topics revolving around Women’s History Month it’s time to point out what is happening here and now amongst women to shape the face of our futures. Suzanne asked Becky and Jody why and how they decided to step out on their own and start this project that is much bigger than life-size and Becky answered with a very simple phrase that speaks beyond itself.

“I wanted to see dignity…”

Becky and Jody both took some of their time to tell us their journey and how they decided to create something that would impact people around the world. The Adventure Project takes things like coal-burning stoves for people in Haiti and education for well mechanics in India as a way to promote personal dignity. Becky saw the need during her travels and found a way she could change these things and give these people she was encountering a way to not only have a need met but then provide for themselves by creating self-sustainable opportunities. Jody took account of her life and said “Where can I use the talents, time and energy that I’ve been given?” She is a mother to 6 beautiful children, a wife and the founder of an incredible organization. I have no idea how she does it, and I am consistently in awe of her dedication and desire to change the world using her skills.

As I said before, I wanted to write about where I see our generation of women now and where I would love to see us in the future. Here are two women who are inspiring myself and my friends to be not only women that are investing in the future but women who see their purpose and want to honor God through that.

Be inspired. Take action. Transform lives.

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Filed under Human Interest, Projects, Women's History Month

Freedom from Fear

It would be difficult to dispel ignorance unless there is freedom to pursue the truth unfettered by fear.

-Aung San Suu Kyi


It could be partly due to the fact that I’ve been to Burma, or that I have a deep connection to the fight against oppression that I consider Aung San Suu Kyi to be one of the most important and influential women to be recognized in the last century. But, I would say beyond my own personal bias there is a deep reverence and respect for this woman who has battled hardship and prejudice for most of her life simply because she has decided to fight for something she believes in.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Aung San who founded the modern Burmese army and is responsible for liberating Burma from the British Empire when Suu Kyi was just 2 years old.  Following in her fathers footsteps she pursued politics after obtaining very reputable degrees and returned to Burma to fight for independence.

Burma is buddhist country that is still enveloped in the darkness of spirituality, political oppression and military rule. Their approach to socialism has been described as  ‘an amalgam of Buddhist and Marxist illogic’ by Newsweek. Overall the country has lived in severe poverty, unrest and a superstitious mentality that rules even their government.

Suu Kyi recognized the oppression that the government placed on its people and she decided that she did not have to remain silent about her desire for a democratic country, but instead speak out for it. One of her most recognized quotes is:

“You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.”

While many people will find quaint ways of saying what they believe, rarely will you find a person that puts their life behind their words. Suu Kyi has done just that, spending 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest for speaking out against the governmental powers and asking for democracy and freedom for her people. She is looked to as a national hero by the Burmese people, a model of inspiration for those who still suffer oppression, a picture of dignity who does not use her gender as an excuse for women who don’t have a voice, and an activist that has not stopped in the face of threats, hardships and dangers for those who desire to see change.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a politician, an activist, a woman… she has changed the world through her commitment to action against oppression.

“I don’t believe in people just hoping. We work for what we want. I always say that one has no right to hope without endeavor”

 


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Filed under Causes, Human Interest, Women's History Month

25.

I’ve always had a thing for dreary days. I blame it on my optimistically melancholic spirit.

I imagine that I was probably born on a rainy, dreary day (do not be alarmed, this does not mean I don’t like sunny days- who doesn’t love a sunny afternoon in a hammock?). Unfortunately my image of a poetic entrance into the world has been ruined, my mother tells me the day I was born was a sunny one… snowy, but sunny. Probably because I’m the light of her life, but that’s just my estimation.  Now, apparently my mother was trying to run around in the dead of New York’s January winter, riding on horse sleighs into the woods while in labor. The two of us have always been a bit over-ambitious. This leads me to my point…. in my 25 years some may say (in their list of 25 things, see below) that I haven’t been very ambitious, but I would submit that they are wrong.

I recently typed this search into google… don’t laugh…

I’m turning 25, what do I do?

I came upon this little gem, a list of 25 things to do- before you turn 25. I remember thinking the grand sum of my life could be determined by this man’s idea of an adolescence fully-lived. That’s when the nausea rolled in.

I tallied up my points on his little life scale and I have accomplished a grand total of: 15

I feel as though that is not such a bad number- not the best mind you, but not tragic. Which I have concluded is just fine. Because I’m making my own list… my list of 25 before 25. Now.. I’ve cheated, I have done all of these things already (but it’s my list so it’s my prerogative) but take this as advice all ye who are younger than me!

  1. Own a fish– I have had one or two in my life. But I just got one this weekend… Clive.
  2. Travel to a foreign country with your best friend– check and check
  3. Start a blog.. done.
  4. Smoke a pipe… or don’t… (Mom, you don’t see this.)
  5. Spend an evening in a Thai Hippie joint where the band only plays reggae
  6. Go spelunking
  7. Find an antique and bring it back to life
  8. Go on at least 15 photo shoots with your best friends
  9. Attempt to ride a long-board. You may not succeed… but that’s fine.
  10. Get a tattoo… or 3.
  11. Meet the Lord in a real and powerful way
  12. Learn how to paint (“paint” is a term I use loosely…)
  13. Meet an earthly hero. James MacDonald- check.
  14. Get a degree– even if it is just in life experience
  15. Learn how to cook one good meal– I guarantee it will come in handy someday
  16. Teach someone something– passing on knowledge= legit.
  17. Develop some immediate, near future and lifetime goals
  18. Take at least one great, long road trip with your best friends
  19. Dance in public– it does wonders for your insecurity
  20. Take a philosophy class
  21. Learn how to check your oil, air pressure and how to drive in snow
  22. Play a prank that has potential for serious trouble
  23. Ride an elephant
  24. Drive through the night and watch the sunrise
  25. Do something you once thought was impossible

I’m certain that each of these experiences in my 25 years has factored into who I am today and who I intend to be in the future. So, Happy Birthday to me and good luck to all of you who have yet to complete some of these milestones!

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Filed under Daily Life, Reflection

L’ Union Fait La Force

The french phrase that speaks out as Haiti’s motto is probably the most appropriate way to sum up their year of devastation, pain, tragedy and loss.

Unity Creates Strength

It’s the year anniversary of the earthquake that shattered this tiny country. And unlike the moments such as 9.11.01, when George W. became president and the occurrence of the Virginia Tech shootings, I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing when I heard about the Haiti crisis. I don’t know if that makes me a horrible human being or not but it’s the truth… I didn’t think much about what was happening. I think part of it may have had to do with there being so many natural disasters within the last few years, that this ‘old hat’ sort of response was the easiest way to take it in. “Another disaster, more aid, another city, country, hometown ect. to rebuild.”

It’s so easy here, in my little world… where I can just try to ignore tragedy.

So, here we are… a year out. Haiti has been hit time and time again this year. First the devastating earthquake, then the onslot of cholera and now the rise in crimes against women that is resulting in a massive hike in pregnancies. But through the pain, sickness and crime– they are rebuilding, little by little… unity has given them strength

You are here in all the rubble, where the broken-hearted grieve.

-Tim Glenn

 


Their response is that of defiance, they refuse to be beaten down, they refuse to stop rebuilding, to stop reclaiming their lives, they refuse to give up. Their strength comes from their unity, how are we helping them find that strength? How are we responding? I don’t remember where I was when I heard, I don’t remember my exact response or how much I really cared to invest at the time… but I remember now. I’ve seen the photo’s, I’ve heard the stories. Now, what I didn’t remember… I can’t forget.

What can we do to remember Haiti throughout this month and this year? Find a way to make a difference, if you lack funds and means… spread awareness… get behind a cause that is doing something and learn how you can make a difference.

 

Photo’s used with permission from WorldHelp

@world_help

#rememberhaiti

WorldHelp on Facebook

Remember Haiti Twibbon

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Filed under Human Interest

1.11.11

There are 4 times this year that the date will contain all 1’s. This is monumental people… it only happens one year every century.

However, the date 1.11 comes every year; and with it comes a day of awareness that I think everyone should broadcast in some fashion.

National Human Trafficking Awareness day comes about every year and each year I’d like to think a few more people have become intently aware of just how massive this issue is. Let’s chat… according to International Justice Mission;

Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 12 billion dollars a year for those who, by force and deception, sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. Nearly 2 million children are exploited in the commercial sex industry.

27 million men, women and children are held as slaves. (Kevin Bales,Disposable People)

The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion (U.N.)

The heartbreaking realization is that there is only a small percentage of our world’s populous fighting against this raging beast.

It’s tragedy.

So what are you doing now to combat the evils of this world? Are you concerned about the welfare of your fellow-man, woman and child? What will it take to get your attention? How many children have to suffer the pain and disgrace of sexual exploitation before we step in?

Here is just a small list of ways you can do something in your realm of influence. Pick just one for now and do your part.

11 Practical Ways

I’m taking on 1, 4, 7 and 8.

This is how change starts.

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Filed under Human Interest