The World

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sometimes it takes a while for that light bulb above our heads to turn on. I was at a conference in 1993 with hundreds of other Citibankers from all corners of the globe. The background theme song throughout was Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. I was 38 at the time and had spent most of my life bounded by the Sabine, Rio Grande and Red Rivers. But I got to wondering if Louie was right – what if it is a wonderful world and because of my limited perspective, I’ve only tasted the tiniest sliver. So I set out to investigate.

It turns out Louie is right. People in every country share similar hopes and fears. They dream similar dreams for their children. They welcome strangers. Like Americans, people the world over are deeply patriotic and when you visit their countries and experience their cultures, you understand why.

These similarities mask one major difference – resources. The US accounts for roughly 25% of world GDP, but only about 5% of its population. We are blessed simply by virtue of our birthplace. How we choose to respond defines us as individuals and as a country. Our government doesn’t do too well, irrespective of which party is in power, but I’ll save that for a future blog.

I believe a Rwandan life or a Peruvian life or a Ukrainian life is equal to an American life in God’s eyes. Do you agree ?

And while we have poverty in the US, it pales in comparison to that found in the developing world, whose governments are frequently unable to provide the basics. No safety nets exist.

Personally and professionally, I want my effort to go where I can have maximum impact and encourage others to do the same. So who are the most marginalized, who are those without any hope that we can impact ? One of these groups is undoubtedly the world’s 143,000,000 orphans. We can make a difference – one orphan at a time; one orphanage at a time; one country at a time until there are no more orphans.

Can any one of us change the world ? Absolutely yes, although we can be even more effective when we band together. Why do I readily say “yes” to a question that often elicits skepticism ? Because we don’t usually see the ripple effect of what we do. Maybe the orphan you support today will one day lead his or her country and will do so with compassion and vision because of your generosity.

Russell Crowe captured this sentiment well in the movie, Master and Commander - “What we do in this life echoes throughout eternity.”

1 comment:

Bridgid said...

Nice article, cept for the last comment. Crowe said that in Gladiator as Maximus, not in Master and Commander. I'm just a hopeless fan of Jack Aubrey mind you. LOLOL