Would You Save This Child?

Say Cheese!This is a pic of my son Griffin. I think you’d save him, if he needed saving. Why then do we ignore the preventable deaths of other children around the world when our actions would save their lives?  This is a challenging question and one introduced to me by Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save.

I present Singer’s thoughts in this excerpt of Where Am I Giving?:

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I threw my cell phone, dropped my laptop bag, and ran as if my life depended on it. Part of me wanted to throw up or scream or both, but I needed to focus all of my energy on running as fast as I could.

Nothing else in my life mattered in that…

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Wanderlust, It’s a Wonderful Life, & Mom

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(Mom and I with Safari Doctors in Lamu, Kenya)

A few years ago Mom told me that when she was in high school she wanted to be a travel writer. She graduated and went to a business college for a year before becoming pregnant. Mom and Dad got married in a ceremony I haven’t heard much about. They moved into a mobile home, but her life was anything but mobile. Dad worked construction and on his parents’ farm. Mom worked as a secretary for an auto manufacturer that has long since closed.

She lost the baby. His name was Michael. I’ve always felt some connection with him. If he had lived, would they have decided to have a third child after…

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Dear friend who doesn’t like to get political

Dear friend who doesn’t like to “get political,”

Farm bill. Food stamps. Farm subsidies. Food safety. Poisoned.

Eating is a political act.

Car emissions. Smog warning. Ozone action. Factory exhaust. Suffocation.

Breathing is a political act.

No music. Test teaching. Politician’s curriculum. Slashed budgets. Dumbed.

Education is a political act.

High premium. Expensive meds. Uninsured bankruptcy. Untreated. Preexisting until you unexist.

Health is a political act.

Farm runoff. Waste treatment. Lead water. Depleted aquifers. Parched.

Drinking is a political act.

Bears Ears. Natural parks. Algal blooms. Dying reefs. Homeless.

Recreation is a political act.

Trade laws. Labor rights. Underpaid. Overtime. Destitute.

Working is a political act.

Neighborhood watch. Stand your ground. Speed limits. Slow . . . at risk children at play.

Safety is a political act.

Unemployment. Social security. Disability. Promised entitlements. Uncertainty.

The future is a political act.

Museums. Public works. Heart appreciation. Examined…

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The gift of a teacher

Mrs Marshall

Before I turn in a book manuscript to my editor, I turn it in to my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall. She’s my best and most trusted editor. And also, I suppose, I’m trying to make up for all the assignments I didn’t turn in as a high school student.

There was the group project on King Arthur where we turned in our “notes” and it became apparent that none of us were taking the assignment seriously.

There was the summer reading group. Mrs. Marshall selected me and a few other students for a group she hosted at her house . . . in the summer! Did I mention this was during…

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Do you tip the barista when they aren’t looking?

Has this happened to you?

You place your coffee order and by the time you find a buck or two for the tip, the barista has their back to you. You look at the hand-decorated, ornamented tip jar and pause. Do you drop in the tip while no one is looking, or do you wait to get “credit”– a “thank you” for your “thank you.”

What did you do?

Does a tip fall into a jar if there is no one in the cafe to see it? Does it count? Of course it is counted at the end of the day. But in that moment, it’s not counted as your act of gratitude.

But are we tipping to enhance our own status or tipping to support someone else? Is tipping about us or…

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My son the tiger

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Raise your expectations to succeed.

“Aim for the moon and, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  – W. Clement Stone

Or, inversely, lower your expectations to feel like you succeeded.

“The secret of happiness is low expectations.” – Barry Schwartz

Expectations can be healthy or unrealistic.

My son Griffin is in Kindergarten. We didn’t expect autism and had never suspected it until our pediatrician raised the concern when Griff was only 18-months old. Then kindergarten seemed like light years away and an impossibility.

Would he talk? Would he learn? Would he listen?

He exceeded our expectations during kindergarten. Academically he performed on a fourth grade-level; that’s as high as the test would go….

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I cut Steven Seagal from my book, Putin pasted him into US-Russian relations

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Vladimir Putin named Steven Seagal as the Russian Special Envoy to the United States. While writing Where Am I Giving I went on a Steven Seagal tangent I thought was worth sharing. As a kid I watched a few of his movies, but until I went down the Steven Seagal rabbit hole to research the tangent I never realized how deplorable of a person he seems to be.

To set things up… the tangent came in the first chapter of the book when I write about my first post-college trip. I had been taken in by a monk, Sange, who had stayed at Steven Seagal’s house. We were prepping for a celebration in honor of Sange’s teacher Penor Rinpoche.

Here’s…

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What’s a volunteer worth?

LGBTQ performers

According to the Independent Sector, a membership organization of nonprofits, the value of volunteer time is “the average wage of non-management, non-agricultural workers.” So actually the stat is pretty meaningless and simply an average wage of an American worker.

Not every volunteer or volunteer task is equal.

I worked summers at my parents’ wood truss manufacturing plant swinging a hammer, pushing a broom, and cutting and stacking boards. But I am by no means a carpenter. When I built a bookshelf in shop class in high school, the cuts were rounded and it was a rocking bookshelf, which really isn’t a very desirable quality for a bookshelf. My father, on the other hand, can build anything. If Dad…

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What are the Human Rights anyhow?

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Yesterday Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the United States was withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

George W. Bush thought about doing the same thing. The Obama administration recognized the group wasn’t the most effective, but decided to work from within it.

But putting the politics aside…do you have any idea what the human rights actually are?

I bet you can’t name all 25 articles. I bet you didn’t even know that there aren’t 25 articles but 30. Ha! Got ya! I certainly couldn’t until I looked them up while researching WHERE AM I GIVING? Here’s an excerpt–probably…

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