We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.
But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
I am currently reading two inspiring books, each providing palpable proof that one man, armed only with pure intention and strength of will, can make a difference in the world.
No Impact Man: Saving the Planet One Family at a Time by Colin Beavan is the first such book. Henry David Thoreau retreated from his ‘civilized’ world in the mid 1800s to undertake a life of voluntary simplicity in a hand-hewn cabin on the banks ofWalden Pond. Colin Beavan completed a similar project in modern dayNew York City, only he dragged his partner and young child into the experiment with him. Beavan’s premise: our modern lifestyles are unsustainable and are rapidly depleting the earth’s resources and fouling the environment. He could see that even the best-meaning politicians aren’t taking the steps necessary to halt this potentially cataclysmic global degradation, so why not begin with the individual, with the family? His prose is witty and honest, his choices thought-provoking. He endeavoured to live a year with a minimal carbon footprint and he succeeded. Along the way he learned many things and he has been courageous to share them with us. He has made a difference.
Greg Morenson too has made a difference and David Oliver Relin shares the story of this humble humanitarian in his beautifully written biography: Three Cups of Tea. Mortenson was a mountaineer who nearly died in 1993 after an unsuccessful attempt to scale the planet’s most formidable peak—K2—in northernPakistan. By happenstance, he lost his way on his exhausting retreat from the mountain and stumbled into a remote Balti village in that Shangri La-like corner of the world. The experience of living with these impoverished simple-living Shia Muslim villagers and being nursed back to a semblance of strength and health by them, and his discovery that the village had no school led him to begin his life’s work of providing schools for young Islamic boys and girls in villages where no schools existed before.
Mortenson grew up inTanzaniawatching his father build a 600 bed hospital and his mother a school for the people of that sweltering land. Mortenson’s exceptional linguistic skills were forged in the oven ofAfrica. His Swahili was so fluent that, on the phone, people mistook him for an African. He has used these linguistic levers to masterPakistan’s national tongue, Urdu, together with the Balti and Pashto cadences of the mountain dwellers he serves. Prior to his shift to his humanitarian calling, Mortenson had been a nurse, cultivating compassion for those injured and in pain. These qualities have helped him gain the respect and support of the Pakistani people. And his efforts have perhaps created more goodwill betweenAmericaand the Islamic world than the efforts of all well-intentioned diplomats combined.
The Central Asia Institute (CAI), with Greg Mortenson at its head, can construct a school for less than twenty thousand dollars. That’s half of what it would cost the government of Pakistanto build the same school, and one-fifth of what the World Bank would spend on the same project. Visit the www.threecupsoftea.com web site to find out more. You can also help promote education for girls through a tax deductible contribution to the nonprofit organization, Central Asia Institute, at P.O. Box 7209, Bozeman, MT 59771, phone 406-585-7841 or visit www.ikat.org. It costs CAI $1.00 per month for one child’s education inPakistan orAfghanistan, a penny to buy a pencil, and a teacher’s salary averages $1.00 per day.
Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com
“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”
Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/
“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”
Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews
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