I’m not saying “Help!” because I need help. I’m making a recommendation. As in, go out into the world & help! Only because it will make you feel so good. Odds are excellent that along the way you’ll do some substantial good for others…but for sure you will do more than you expect for yourself.
I’m reading the most awesome book right now: A Paradise Built in Hell – The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, by Rebecca Solnit (published in 2009).
The book came into my hands because a new friend (who’s been reading this blog lately) seemed to sense that I needed help. He was right; I did!
I’ve been down in the dumps (or worse) about the Fukushima situation & other sundry & pressing problems/wars/challenges on Planet Earth at this very very interesting time in human history.
Some of us suspect there may be a disaster (or quite a few) in our future, & what this wonderful book does is inspire readers with its recounting of 5 major “disaster utopias” that resulted in unique times & circumstances & led to human nature not just rising to the occasion, but triumphing in big & likely unexpected ways.
Solnit recounts the extraordinary generosity – selflessness – energy – community feeling/spirit that arose in the wake of the San Francisco earthquake/fire of 1906, the Halifax explosion of 1917, the Mexico earthquake of 1985, New York City’s 9/11/2001 & Katrina/New Orleans in 2005.
There is a review of the book here
(You can also watch this, not that I have, but you can!!)
Let me just conclude by saying that the book is chockfull of insightful observations about human nature. This is one very articulate writer, & I can’t recommend her book highly enough. (I just asked my local library to buy a copy. Good one to donate, perhaps, if need be!)
I needed to encounter this book right now. (Thanks, Andrew!!)
I hope it will convince you to get out there, forget yourself & your own little life (for a little while, at least), & Help! (No need to wait for a disaster! )
p.s. I’ve been “helping” for 28 years now. Volunteer work of a considerable variety of kinds, culminating most recently in anti-nuclear work. All my volunteer work, all along (most of my paid work too, as far as that goes) has been aimed at the utopian idea of helping make the world a “better place.” Jury is still out on the results, I guess, but this much is 100% certain. I always, always, always get way more out of it than I put in. In a variety of intangible & unexpected ways. If I try to articulate a common theme, though, it’s this: it always results in wonderful new friendships & a gratifying sensation of helping create community. A feeling that absolutely can’t be beat!
Quote of the day: “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – Jackson Brown, Jr., writer
A Few Others:
“Energy always flows either toward hope, community, love, generosity, mutual recognition, and spiritual aliveness or it flows toward despair, cynicism, fear that there is not enough, paranoia about the intentions of others, and a desire to control.” ~ Michael Lerner, quoted in “The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community,” by David Korten
“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.” – Victor Frankl
“I still believe the model of the peaceful world is the potluck supper. Everyone can make a contribution, everyone can gain fellowship and nourishment, and we can all learn from one another.” – Ursula Franklin
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller
“Sin is that which separates.” – Nietzsche
“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist