“…the lower our environmental footprint, the greater our capacity to do good in other areas.”

–Charlie Bresler, Executive Director of The Life You Can Save

The Problem with Re-Gifting

Think before you re-wrap that old gift

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/dE5SpH

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/dE5SpH

When we lived in Cambodia, sometimes my wife and I ventured out for evening desserts.

Occasionally, we bought them from a woman who set up a table each night in the open-air market a block from our apartment.

One evening, I selected sticky rice from her selection of large bowls of colorful desserts. It was 50-cents.

I watched her spoon out a blob of sticky rice and push it into a small plastic bag with her fingers.

I thought about how her hands were quite possibly dirty, though she was simply doing what was normal in that culture.

On our short walk home, I decided to give the dessert to the security guard who sat out in front of our apartment building each night. The sticky rice just didn’t appeal to me anymore.

The security guard was happy to receive the treat. And I was pleased to give it to him.

Later, though, I thought about the whole matter.

What if the security guard thought that I had bought the dessert specifically for him?

What if he thought more highly of me because of that?

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Can Facebook care?

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/e1LKVj

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/e1LKVj

On Saturday morning, I woke up to find a picture at the top of my Facebook homepage that reminded me of something from six years ago. My roommates and I had taken funny pictures around the old La-Z-Boy recliner in our kitchen. It was like our Christmas card family portrait.

I’m glad Facebook reminded me of that memory. I presumed that Facebook also posted the same photo to the homepages of my old roommates. In a sense, it kind of brought the four of us together again in some magical, existential way—us all remembering the fond memories of that evening and our life together that year.

If recalling that fond memory wasn’t enough, Facebook even told me that it cared about me.

“John, we care about you and the memories you share here,” Facebook wrote, above the picture.

But as nice as it was to re-live that memory, I don’t think Facebook pinned that photo to my homepage only to make me feel good.

Nor do I think

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Understanding why we fight

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/9AeqD2

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/9AeqD2

Waiting at the water department in Istanbul, my wife was number 30 in line.

After she was there for a while, the office closed for lunch.

And everybody waited longer.

Someone made a comment about the dysfunctions of bureaucracies in “Muslim countries,” and that sparked a small shouting match.

A government employee finally intervened and the security guard appeared.

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How to have a Life Make-over

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/4kmmho

Photo: https://flic.kr/p/4kmmho

This morning, I’ve thought: If I were to have a Life Make-over, what would it be like?

To get from Here to There, what would it require?

First, it would mean identifying what I don’t want in my life and then planning–and committing–to changing so that I can do what I want to do.

Doing what I want to do (do I even know what I want to do?) requires first being who I want to be.

A Life Make-over for many of us, I’d imagine, requires a lot of changes.

Sometimes I think about my past–in good and less-good ways.

I think about who I was in order to think about who I want to be.

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“As people of faith in something greater than ourselves, or as people who want to live meaningful lives with purpose, how do we propose to live? And what difference are we going to make?”

–David Hempton

The inconvenience of privilege

Photo: http://mrg.bz/Icmu8S

We Westerners enjoy many privileges. We drink clean water from the tap and can defecate in a toilet without paying a fee. Unless we travel abroad, we aren’t at risk of contracting malaria or any number of other diseases. We enjoy a great deal of freedom.  Our human rights are protected. We know English as our native language. We have easy access to the Internet.

If you’re like me,

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The problem with ‘doing good’

We just don't know how to do it well

At the top of an email I received today, was this quote:

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Minor Myers)

Photo: http://tinyurl.com/o8c55fp

Photo: http://tinyurl.com/o8c55fp

I read it a couple of times, over and over, just to make sure I understood it.

Do well. Do good.

What does that mean? 

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“…we are all shareholders in a system of slavery found in numerous global supply chains. We must ask ourselves how much longer we will look the other way while millions toil in slave-like conditions to provide us with the goods and services we consume.”

–Siddarth Kara