December 10, 2018

I wait every year for my favorite show of the year — CNN Heroes.  I stand and clap as each one is featured and honored.  This year, filled as it is with more conflict than comfort in our world societies, I was somewhat desperate to feel awe and inspiration once again for these “ordinary people,”  who give of themselves  wholeheartedly to bring comfort, caring, and respect to so many.

Their causes are spread across an impressive array of countries and needs.  Their drive and dedication is not limited by money, age, or education.  But at the core of their motivation is something that seems to be endangered in our present human race — empathy.  It’s a small word really, but yet so complex to feel in depth.  It’s not easy to be truly empathetic.  And it takes more than creativity to turn empathy into action.  It takes courage that doesn’t quit.

The breadth and depth of the heroes was wide and deep — tiny home communities for homeless veterans, a shelter in Peru for children and their families who required long term medical treatment far from home,  access to expensive bionic equipment for those who had lost their mobility, a peaceful place to heal for women who had been through the hell of sex trafficking.  I felt a special connection to the 88 year old woman who had set up an online ESL program that enabled immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship.  One continuing thread was how the heroes were quick to  turn the attention away from their own hard work to that of the people they were helping.

One of my favorite parts is always the Young Wonders who have set up incredible programs at amazingly young ages.  There was a young boy who started making lunches for homeless people, brought together a group of kids to help make the sandwiches, and then carried them out to the streets and handed a bag of healthy food to anyone who looked needy.  Not only was there food and a friendly smiling face handing them out, but the bags were hand-decorated with happy sayings and cute pictures to add that something extra that showed caring.  Another child started a program that gives birthday parties with all the trimmings for children with disabilities.

There was a follow-up on what some of the previous Young Wonders are doing years after they received their awards.  They did not stray from their early desire to help and are now serving ever larger needy populations with a wider range of services.

I fell in love with Bali for the first time in 1989.  A local resident I got to know  foresaw that plastic bags were a potential danger to that beautiful, fragile place.  Many years later, two sisters in Bali saw the same danger  strewn in front of their eyes everywhere.  These Young Wonders started Bye Bye Plastic Bags and have found ways to encourage the local people not to use plastic bags.  They do constant clean up  wherever they find discarded plastic bags.  They also have devised a simple system to block mostly plastic refuse that clogs up the small rivers.  And, they have established a small community of women in one village to get paid for making bags from recycled materials.  They didn’t stop to worry “What’s the use of doing something on such a small scale?”

As someone who spent time as a social worker in difficult life situations, and lived in third world poverty, I feel a particularly strong admiration for the CNN heroes.

So, I say again with deep gratitude, Hooray for Do-Gooders.  May they forever find ways to sustain their kindness to others.


December 4, 2018
Ah, yes, why is California burning up?  It makes sense because the majority of today’s humans have no natural sense of nature.  The Indians knew that periodic partial burning of brush, debris, and over crowded areas was healthy to nature and humans alike.  And they practiced it.  But, then came the white humans who have no sense of nature and its needs.  And they came in larger and larger numbers to California because they love warm weather and beautiful sights.
And so the human population of California expanded even after the gold ran out.  California’s gold became its beauty and gentle weather.  With no sense of mother nature’s needs, or their own inextricable connection to nature, they came, and came, and came.  They built houses where houses should never have been built.  They made sure for many years that every little spark or small fire was suppressed immediately because they needed to protect “their” property.
Grass and garden lovers that they were, they planted water hungry plants and trees in areas of very low rainfall.  To feed those thirsty plants, they captured water that should have run all the way into the waiting oceans.  Green lawns and huge trees grew where nature hadn’t intended as it wrung dry the rivers that were valiantly attempting to meet the ocean.  The rivers and ground water dried up as the trees and green grass grew.
While that was happening in southern California, the greedy humans of the world busily squeezed all of earth’s natural energy resources like there was no tomorrow.  And now, with global warming, that legacy may become all too true for our planet.
Five straight years of drought in southern California tried to bring attention to what humans were doing to the earth.  With no rain from the skies, and uncomfortably rising summer and fall temperatures, southern California half-heartedly and grudgingly made a few concessions to adding some wind power and solar power and grey water, and waited for the rain to return.  There was one brief year of celebration when snow returned in large amounts, (see, global warning is a hoax) once again filling reservoirs.  People delighted in the abundance of water again and returned to their wasteful water wasting ways.  Too bad about all the flooding that followed the rains and washed down huge areas of mud no longer held in by root systems of the trees that had burned.
And now we have arrived at a point in the world that the short-lived human species has not had to deal with during its existence.  Yes, there have been other times when our planet became too hot or too cold for human comfort, but that was before humans populated our planet.
I used to worry a lot about nature.  But, one day, it somehow became clear to me that nature would eventually survive.  It was humans that would have to adapt, or go extinct.
True, we have learned how to send people to the moon, how to kill cancer, how to design foods and babies more to our liking.  The hubris with which humans believe they can conquer all things is endless, and sometimes even endearing.
Are human nature and mother nature compatible?  Nature is running out of patience to show humans the error of their ways.  There’s a good reason why we call her Mother Nature.
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