I read Johnny Cash’s autobiography a few years ago…
"I still cry at almost anything. It can be something as profound as the beauty of a grandchild in my arms or as trifling as the smile of a pretty girl winning a skating championship on TV. Life has become very moving."
I watched an interview with Richard Branson a few months ago…
"I do cry easy. Most weeks I cry onto something. Often it's tears of happiness. And actually my life is more often tears of happiness than tears of sorrow. Very rarely tears of sorrow."
I heard this from Corey Widmer (a pastor at my church) several weeks ago…
"Why is my anger so utterly disproportionate? Why is it that I get more angry about poor service in a restaurant than I do about the 1.1 billion people in the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water."
Then John Hughes died early last month and I (along with about a zillion other people) read Alison Byrne’s blog post about Hughes’s outreach to her…
"Tonight, when I heard the news that John had died, I cried. I cried hard. (And I'm crying again.) I cried for a man who loved his friends, who loved his family, who loved to write and for a man who took the time to make a little girl believe that, if she had something to say, someone would listen."
That weekend, The Spaniard and I watched Seven Pounds* (Will Smith) and were moved (and inspired) to the point where we watched all of the extras on the DVD. The editor of the movie (Hughes Winborne) talked about one of the most important scenes…
"When I put that scene together, I took a whole day to do it. I cried so many times. It was so painful for me to do. As painful as it might be, it’s still a gift."
The last few weeks I’ve been reading a book (I’m a ridiculously slow reader) by Richard Stearns, the CEO of World Vision** (The Hole in Our Gospel***). In it he shares several mind-blowing stories about poverty and injustice in the world and tries to encourage us to take personal responsibility for helping others. Among the stories (one which he excerpts from the NY Times about poor people in Haiti eating mud… absolutely heartbreaking… read from the subhead to the end) he shares how studies have shown that we (you and I) respond in a greater way to the world’s charitable organizations when we’re presented with the suffering of one person (a child) rather than millions of people. Somehow the big statistics (which are beyond understanding) “seem to excuse our inaction.”
Later in the book, he shares the starfish parable**** and I start wondering why we need a parable about starfish to understand we’re responsible to one another in a one-to-one way (“one person at a time” as Stearns says.)
So what’s my point in all this?
I’m not exactly sure. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t holding onto something that might somehow send a ripple in the right direction because I was waiting for the lesson.
One thing (maybe) is that if we’re really awake (aware), it seems like we should be continually crying out of either happiness or sadness. (Of course, that would make getting our work done difficult, wouldn’t it?)
The more important thing… Our care and our work matters. We’re all counting on each other. We have to stay awake and encourage and remind our people (friends, family, colleagues, etc.) to do the same. And then remind ourselves again… and again.
* We didn’t know what Seven Pounds was about when we Netflixed it. I think it made it even powerful for us. If you really need to know, here’s the site.
** World Vision is a large Christian humanitarian organization that focuses on the challenges of poverty and injustice around the world. Sterns’s book is very faith-based. If you go to a Christian church, you should be able to handle it (unless you’re Roman Catholic… I’m kidding… sort of… I was there 40 years, man.). Here’s the book’s site if you want to learn more. Sterns has a great illustration in the book around the clean water problem mentioned above by Corey (I'm the angry guy at the restaurant, by the way).
*** If you don't have the money and really want (and will read) Stearns's book, I'll buy you one (first 10 people). Just email me your name and mailing address with "Stearns book" in the subject line (sam with an at sign and then justparker.com).
**** It’s really unclear who wrote the starfish parable. Bottom line… Thousands of starfish beached. Kid is throwing them back in the water one by one. As he’s throwing one back an older guy walks up and asks what he’s doing. Kid says he’s saving the starfish. Older guy points out the kid can’t possibly make a difference with so many starfish being beached. Kid says, “It makes a difference to this one.”