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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

I got a soap box. I keep it low profile at least on the interwebs when it comes to certain topics. Consider this your warning that this is a soapbox post.  Cease and desist if you’re not interested.

Well, it’s May Day today.  There is a day of for protesting going on around the world.  Here in Seattle, the protests have turned “violent” in a building-destroying kind of way.  Lame. C’mon.  

 If I could protest protesting I would.  I just don’t get it.

 Allow me to provide some context.

Once a month all of the global health teams get together to hear from leadership about recent trips/topics of interest.  Yesterday we met to hear about recent leadership trips to Zambia, which focused on highlighting the efforts around HIV and malaria, a country hit heavily by both. 

They shared a couple things:

*A picture of a woman who was HIVpostive, very sick and through a series of drug therapies has since been able to give birth to an HIV negative healthy baby boy.  He has a real shot at a healthy life now.

*Stories about Coptic church Archbishops and members of the clergy who operate and run private hospitals in Africa caring for orphans of HIV/AIDS related deaths. 

*A mobile HIV diagnosis site where people can go and get regular tests for HIV, as diagnosis is one of the obstacles of preventing HIV because 1.) If you don’t know you have it, you can unknowingly spread it and 2.) if you do have it you need treatment for your personal health and to mitigate the potential for further transmission.  

*Stories of pharmacies that stock anti-retroviral drugs used to treat patients with HIV/AIDS and the many huddles involved from development to distribution especially related to developing countries. 

Today we screened a documentary called “My Own Two Wheels” that highlights people around the world who without any real means are improving theirs and the lives of other by simply using a bike. Incredible stories.   

A colleague at the foundation is spearheading an effort to bring awareness to the global populations that live in “extreme poverty”.  In doing so, he is living on $1.50USD per day for food which is how the World Bank quantifies “extreme poverty”.  It’s called Live Below the Line which I would highly recommend checking out and join in doing so.

But all this over the past couple day really got me thinking.    

I got to thinking about my problems.  Maybe you’ve been thinking about your problems. But you think we got real problems...I'm beginning to doubt that.  And the more I doubt, the more I begin to look at this day of protest with real embarrassment and understanding of why the world hates us. So, might I suggest that those who believe they are in the oppressed 99%, perhaps we could expand the scope, and understand, globally, the “we” here in the developed world, with all the goodness we have are really in the 1%, a very privileged 1%.  And the real problems, poverty and disease cannot be picketed away.   Throwing rocks through windows or protesting by not going to work doesn’t solve real problems.  And I get it, I totally get that a collective can send a really loud message but a collective can also actively make actual change in real people’s lives.  We have a responsibilities as  contributing members of society and to do good in this world. And I don’t mean my or your world, I mean the global world, that world where people with real problems live in.   

I imagine lots of people share the same sentiments and there are a handful that don’t.  So I think I connect with this small more intimate idea of placing perspective of personal problems in a global context.  My problems aren't problem.  They aren't anything.  They are just this life happening.   Just a really great life happening. 

So if you have extra time, spend it wisely.  If you have extra financial resources, spend it generously.  If you have extra emotional capacity, spend it kindly.  Hug your dad, call a friend, buy someone flowers, go to work but don’t throw stones, literally or proverbially.

Me thinks that’s what will make this world a better place.

Off soap box.


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