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Blessings into contributions

Posted Mar 05 2010 12:00am
There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love. Bryant H. McGill
Many mornings when I start to write, I'm not sure what words or thoughts will appear. Sometimes, it takes me three or four paragraphs to find the 'theme' and to slip into the flow. This morning, I knew before I sat down the theme of this post. It was to be about hearing, deep listening, and the power of opening up to someone else's pain and confusion to find my own sense within.

And then... I read my friend Maureen's All Art Friday blog (to get inspired click the link). And I got lost in the images and ideas and thoughts and videos at Freedom In Creation (FIC). FIC is an important initiative. It's mission is to use the power of art to heal and transform the lives of children -- many of whom have been forced into child warfare -- to heal.

As I watched the video and then read through the site, I linked through to another site, Torn From Home , My life as a refugee, and that's when I woke up.

Let me put this in perspective. I live in a country of some 35 million inhabitants. We are spread out across a wide and diverse landscape. From ocean floor to mountain peaks. From lakes and rivers to boreal forests and ice-capped oceans. Anywhere from 75% to 90% of our entire population live within 200 miles of the US border (percentage varies depending upon which report you read). Regardless of the absolute percentage, it means that a vast majority of our land is sparsely inhabited. Of our entire population less than 1% are homeless.

Here's what hit me this morning. Right now, as I write, there are approximately 30 million people on planet earth who are displaced through war and violence. 30 million. One third of those displaced people are children. Okay, so the entire population of the planet is about 6 billion people -- which means the displaced portion is a relatively small percentage. But really? What in the world are we doing?

In relative terms the entire population displaced by war and violence is almost equal the population of Canada. An entire nation of displaced persons.

In broader terms, the UN Centre for Human Settlement claims that 100 million people around the world, the majority of them women and children, are homeless. The UNCHS also states that another 600 million people live in shelters that are life-threatening, and the large majority live in poverty.

So, now we're close to double the population of the US. Imagine. Double the population of the United States of America live at risk of death because their shelter is unsafe, unstable, untenable.

Call me naive, but that's a lot of people at risk. That's a lot of children growing up in environments where their daily bread is not guaranteed and where life itself is risky business.

Mother Teresa is attributed as having said, "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."

Now, I am blessed. I work in an environment where every day I know we are making a difference in the sea of homelessness. Some days, that difference feels mighty small compared to the Tsunami of homelessness rolling across the globe. Yet, we are not without our resources.

Last week I listened and watched intently as Hawaii prepared itself for the potential onslaught of the Tsunami caused by the quake off the coast of Chile. While no one could accurately predict the wave's course, or force, steps were taken to safeguard life. In the end, the Tsunami faded -- but it did take lives. Lives that belonged to families. Lives that affected someone's life, someone's livelihood. They will be missed. They will be mourned. And for those who waited and then breathed a sigh of relief after the wave passed them by, they will return home, confident that what was there is safe. Assured that their futures will unfold as planned.

Around our world, right now, there are those caught up in a Tsunami of poverty that is sweeping them under the crest of its wave, washing them out to sea. Their lives are not being safeguarded. Their hopes are few. They have no plans for change. No prospects for survival. These people, most of them women and children, are not experiencing the abundance of life on earth, they are drowning beneath a tidal wave of poverty, disease, and despair.

And there are those who are rising above the sea of hopelessness because of organizations like FIC and the Fetzer Institute with their Campaign for Love and Forgiveness .

600 million is a huge number. Hell, 30 million is huge.

Regardless of the size of the number, we must make a difference. And we can.

It is in holding onto that belief. It is in knowing that we are part of an ocean, a sea of life where every drop counts, every life has value, that we begin to make a world of difference.

I can't touch the lives of every displaced or homeless person in the world. I can begin right here, right in my own backyard, to begin to make a difference.

I can let go of prejudice. I can let go of judgement and open myself up to caring. Caring about the state of my world. Caring about the condition of my communities.

We may not be able to 'end homelessness', but we can put a stop to believing it is not our problem.

It's all our problem. It's all our opportunity to make a difference where ever in the world we stand.

What's one thing you can do today to make a difference? Write a cheque. Volunteer. Learn more about your neighbours. Learn more about your communities. Check out organizations in your neighbourhood working to alleviate poverty in your communities and offer your time, resources, energy.

What's one thing you can do today to make a difference? Every drop counts. Do one thing and start flowing into the ocean of change we create when we all turn our blessings into contributions.
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