I started out calling these posts ‘A few good things’
And then I realised the links I’m drawn to, the things I want to share, are often a little bit intense (see today’s poem). They might not seem like ‘good things’ to everyone else. But I do believe they are good.
They may not be light relief for the weekend. But they matter. And they move me. And they add something good to what might be a difficult conversation.
For example, what’s good about a poem written by the wife of an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan, a poem that draws a line between the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a US solider and meat carcasses in her local grocery freezer?
It’s not exactly light reading. But I do believe it is good. It is good to be reminded how art helps us process our confusion, our grief and our anger. It’s good to be reminded of the power of poetry, and of story, to connect us to our own emotions and also to help us see the world in a slightly new light.
What else did I find to be good this week?
Well, today is World Water Day. And I have two good ideas for you.
If you are local (in New Zealand) you could donate to Oxfam’s Safe Water for Life appeal. Because families in Papua New Guinea get less than one per cent of the water the average New Zealander uses daily. Because if you can afford a cup of coffee once a week, you can afford to help our neighbours in Papua New Guinea get access to clean water. And because $35 could provide a tap stand so five families can access safe drinking water.
If you are based elsewhere, you might like to take the money you would otherwise spend on coffee, wine or chocolate this week and donate it to CARE International’s water programmes. Just an idea.
Other good things include this new TEDBook by Alanna Shaikh – ‘What’s Killing Us?’ exploring developments in global health. I’ve only read the introduction, and I’ve already got a new perspective on global health:
“It used to be that one country could be substantially healthier than another, and that the wellness of one area of the world didn’t have much influence on another. Not any more. … We can no longer see someone else’s health issues as only their problem, no matter where they, or we, are.” ~ Alanna Shaikh ‘What’s Killing Us?’
Covering everything from pandemics to the end of antibiotics and climate change, Alanna’s goal is to convince us that the situation is ‘dire but not hopeless’, she concludes every chapter with a section on ‘Why we should be worried’ AND ‘What we can do’. We all have a role to play. This is a short, readable book. It costs less than $3. Buy it. Read it. And then, as Alanna says ‘find your lever to move the world’.
Speaking of taking action, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Dr Brene Brown’s latest TED talk on shame. I’ve been a big fan of Brene’s work for some years now and write a lot about shame, vulnerability and courage in all my online courses. You can find the link to her latest talk, plus a behind-the-scenes interview, over at her blog Ordinary Courage.
Honestly, I don’t think there’s much out there that I love as much as I love Brene’s work on shame and vulnerability. I think my book is pretty much an exercise in using vulnerability to build shame resilience. So far, I mostly want to hide under the covers. But when I get emails from people saying “Reading about your experiences in Afghanistan made me feel less alone in my own moments of messy falling-apart”, I know I’m on the right track.
Someone who always makes me feel like I am not alone with Roxanne, who wrote this – in a beautiful post about Kony 2012, Invisible Children and the importance of compassion:
“I am thoroughly exhausted by hearing that “you will only survive as a conflict specialists if you maintain distance, block out feelings and develop thick skin.” I would much rather serve guided by vulnerability: by discovering and embracing my own, by seeing it and welcoming it in others, rather than denying it, chasing it away or treating it as a sign of weakness.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself (if I could have, I would have, in my book!)
And speaking of Zen Under Fire, another good thing this week: you can win a copy of Zen Under Fire on Goodreads.