The weather on the East Coast is lousy today. It has been lousy for weeks (feels like months) now. I’m very tempted to hold a pity party as my efforts to enjoy the backyard are thwarted at every turn. Even the most heartless among us would let out a giant guffaw at my moaning about the weather in the Northeast.
My heart breaks for the people of Joplin, MO and the victims of so many other tornadoes and flooding throughout the central United States. My husband wondered aloud this morning if the current spate of natural disasters were worse or more numerous than usual. I answered him as any amateur history major might - - we need to look at the very long-term trends to determine if these are anomalies or simply a part of a cycle. My children will tell me that it is a sign of global climate change. Perhaps. Whatever the cause, the more important question is “what to do?”. These are massive, horrible disasters, and we naturally feel helpless in the face of them. We need to tackle them by the means I have long advocated . . . . small simple steps to lasting change.
Skeptical? Of course you are. But, let me try to inspire you by the examples of women who are making a difference and see if there’s a tidbit of their work or inspiration that will cause you to do just one thing more to help. BTW, I seem to be on a water theme today . . . maybe the rain again.
1. The Daily Green, an online blog site, published their 2011 Rachel Carson Award Winners. Sigourney Weaver and Maya Lin (best known for her Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.) may have a more substantial stage on which to stand than either you or I do, but there are small steps in their work that we each can follow and make our own. I love what Maya Lin says about her early inspiration: She was inspired, she said, early in her life by the idea that humans stand alone among species for our ability to destroy, or to save, other species.
2. Wish Upon a Hero is just one way that individuals are trying to make a difference to the citizens of Joplin, MO. Check out this site and others to see how you can help or how you can use the power of the internet and social media to make a difference.
3. Charity: Water. I stopped by my kids’ school last week and saw children as young as 7 carrying gallon milk jugs in each hand, filled with pond water. They walked in a line up to the pond to fill their bottles and then walked around campus, lugging the bottles, in the rain (did I mention, it’s been raining here?). I learned that they were taking part in a fundraiser, and rather than simply harass their parents for contributions, they were trying to get a better sense for the struggle of women in developing nations as they try to provide water to their families. They ended up raising enough money to fund the installation of 2 wells. At dinner that night, my children reported that women in Africa spend more time hauling water than the entire population of France works in one year. Charity: Water makes clean, safe drinking water available to people in developing nations. As our own Midwest nearly drowns under all the rainwater, it’s easy to forget that so many people throughout the world lack such a basic, life giving necessity.
4. Oprah’s favorite guest: One of Oprah’s last shows was dedicated to her favorite guests of all time. When she told the story of her favorite guest, Tererai Trent, I was again reminded to QUIT MY WHINING! (Actually, I’m not really a whiner, but read on). Tererai Trent was born very poor in Zimbabwe. She was married at age 11, uneducated, and had 3 children by the age of 18. From a very early age, she was determined to get an education and to make a better life for herself. Fast forward to 2011, Ms. Trent is living in the U.S. and has earned her PhD. She is now working to bring better education to children in Zimbabwe. You really have to read more about her or watch her interview with Oprah, and then tell me that you can’t do something you want to do. I dare you. The only way Ms. Trent got to where she is today is through small, simple steps and dedication.
There you have it. I haven’t answered the “what to do” question in the face of horrible natural disasters. Hopefully, you can look at these examples and others and realize that you can do anything. Just do it (sorry Nike)! My simple steps are usually focused on creating a better, healthier life for my family. And, I’ve gone a step further with Puristics products. In times like these, I need to take a few steps beyond my family and step out to help others. I’ve done a bit this week through Charity: Water, Heifer International and the outreach programs at my church. What will you do?
M'lou Arnett www.scerene.com
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