THIS, Is What We Do

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” Malala Yousafzai

Malala of course is the young girl who was shot in the head because she wouldn’t be deterred by the Taliban from going to school. In the quote above she speaks of education and teachers changing the world. I think we are ALL teachers. We can teach ourselves, we can teach each other, and we can change the shape of the world.

It’s Jan 3, 2015 on this planet Earth and we all have a fresh page in front of us to write upon. There are so many things to say and so many ways to say them.

Show the world

I had a great holiday conversation with family and friends on New Year’s day. We touched upon recording the lives of our quickly growing families. I spoke of my letters to my grandkids  on their first day on our planet, a welcome-to-the world letter to be opened in the future. .

I spoke too of my journal of 40 years which I took some time to write longhand into some 20 volumes of life. I spoke of how easier it would be for journal writers today to type into computers and save to tiny flash drives instead of my need for large-capacity fire-proof boxes. So easy as well, today to insert digital photos and videos taken on iPhones and the like. The important thing is for people to just get into the habit. Good habits, no calories, no hangovers. 

I joined Facebook very recently and it’s great to see how people share their interests and lives. We may or may not be on Facebook but we all participate on Earthbook.

Earthbook? Yeah, it’s what we write on every day. Whether we like it or not we are all writers, not just in handwritten or typed messages but in what we say to each other and how we say it and what we do on these Earthbook pages.

They flip before us quickly, like the flicker of old silent movies. These individual frames make us laugh, make us cry but they are interactive frames that we can pause through awareness and perhaps influence. Maybe influence enough to change the shape of the whole story.

Earth with pen sleeve

An example: A Friend on Facebook described how he paid for a veterans dinner at a restaurant recently:

James Kolk

December 23, 2014 at 9:25pm ·
I was out celebrating my wife’s birthday tonight with our kids at a local restaurant when I noticed a Marine having dinner with his wife and child. I went and found the manager and asked that they let me pay their bill but do not tell them who paid rather just say it was from someone who appreciated the sacrifice he makes for his family and his country. I was not looking for a pat on the back then and I am not writing this looking for one now. I just realized when I saw him that everyone in that restaurant and everywhere in this great country has the freedom to be with their family because of the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed services. They call it freedom but it is anything but free and many people have paid the ultimate price for what we sometimes take for granted. I would ask that you do something nice for any service man or woman you may come across even if it is just to say thank you for your service to our country. You may not think it matters but I think it would mean a lot to most to know people appreciate them and what they do. This includes both active and retired military personnel as well as a prayer for those who have made that ultimate sacrifice and that they are not forgotten. Merry Christmas to all the members of our military and their families may you all come home safe.

This Facebook Friend’s act communicated more from his heart in that restaurant than he could ever type. He was eloquence in action as are each and every one of us when we touch another with kindness. Kindness so needed on the often wretched lines of Earthbook.

You’ll note that James said, ” I was not looking for a pat on the back then and I am not writing this looking for one now.”

It’s not about looking for a “pat on the back” it’s about saying, “This is what we do.”

Random acts of kindness have been writing great post-it notes on Earthbook for some time now, a coffee at Starbucks for a stranger here, a donut there. But maybe we need to get into some cool paragraphs.

The TV news shows love to tell us what we do. For twenty seven minutes every evening on the Nightly News, Brian Williams and Company tells us basically, “this is what we do.”:

It’s about the ka ka in Kabul. It’s about killing cops on patrol and kids in Newtown classrooms. It’s about looting of stores, and pensions, and retirement savings. It’s about violating trust and violating privacy and the unscrupulous and the unfair and the unhappiness it sows.

Then at the end of Nightly News, for about three minutes it’s the “Making a difference” segment where someone or some group or some organization does some pretty cool thing. Yes, “This is what we do” too. But this is what deserves only three minutes at the very end…in “Making a Difference.”

We ALL “make a difference” with the good things we do. Many of us think, “I do good things but I don’t want to wear them on my sleeve.” Very noble and humble but we need to hear them. America needs to hear them. Humankind needs to hear about them. These good things can’t just continue to be the rare, the unfamiliar, unusually kind. They need to become the expected. And the people who don’t do them are the rare, the odd…the bizarre.

If all we hear is the crap in the world we’ll feel pretty damn crappy. It leads us to do crappy things. We need to help in the, “This-is-what-we-do” effort of positive reports from the front line of American life, the front line of human life, the “breaking news” of the shiny side of humankind

So, anytime one of us American citizens or world citizens does something unexpectedly cool they need to be a “reliable source” with “insight and perspective” and report it to us…anyway they can, Facebook, twitter, Google Plus, or e-mail. Drown out the din of downers! We need a  counterbalance to all the ugly we are force-fed on a daily basis.

Do you think that restaurant story won’t be told again and again and influence others to act similarly? You’d be glad to tell such a story. And many will act likewise because of it. But we all gotta prime that pump. Be the author of that story being told. Consider even expanding on it.

Think about using your particular life-skill pro bono. There are a lot of families around these days with no jobs or part time jobs in real need. If you’re a plumber, plumb someone gratis. If you are an attorney, help someone in need and distress in the interest of justice and humanity. If you run an auto repair shop fix those brakes so a worker can get to work. There are plenty of outreaches, religious or otherwise  who can hook you up with people in genuine need. There are already skilled people performing such acts. Believe me, I know of them!

I think these little efforts change ever so minutely the DNA of humankind. These little efforts are certainly not great things by themselves. But as Mother Theresa once said, “These are small things done with great love.”  I think we need to write more “great love” onto the pages of Earthbook because THIS too, “is what we do.”

Have a fantastic New Year writing with your pens of articulate action. Change the shape of the globe by showing each other, “THIS is what we do.”

Earth heart done

Be well,

Lee Winters


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