Just One Thing

January 16, 2010

The photos and stories coming out of Haiti are heartbreaking—how can one tiny country suffer so much? And Haiti is not the only place where suffering seems to be the baseline for living. I sometimes have to put a moratorium on newspaper reading because there are so many big, unsolvable problems, I become overwhelmed. Despite our economic woes, the U.S. is so much better off in so many ways than nearly the entire world.

I’m happy to see the pouring out of support and help for Haiti, but I wonder what will happen to it once this crisis is “over”—or if it ever will, truly, be over. The country was still struggling to recover from the effects of the hurricanes in 2008 before the earthquake. Haiti needs more than donations of money. They need more than bottled water, or food or medicine. Even I can see this, and I am not remotely qualified to determine what they really need and/or how to give them lasting help. Sending a donation to a relief agency doesn’t feel like enough—it feels like a cop out. Does this mean I should do nothing? That’s not right, either.

I believe when any one of us reaches out to help another, no matter how small the act, it sends positive energy into the world. Imagine if every day every one of us helped someone else! The world would be a better place.

So today, instead of being frustrated because my efforts seem so puny in the face of the world’s troubles, I’ll do “just one thing.” Today, I’ll send a donation to a relief organization to help Haiti. Tomorrow, I’ll try to find someone else to help, and hope that that’s enough. For me, some days my one thing might be something as small as looking the supermarket cashier in the eye and smiling at her. Some days that will be all I am capable of. Other days, my one thing will be more substantial.

Like everyone, I have limited time and money to give. I don’t have answers for the world’s problems. But I can do just one thing.

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  1. Very well said, KJ.

    In one of the many books(?) I have the author talks about watching the news and what a waste of time it is. He talks about what we can and cannot do to help out in those effected by catastrophic events. He suggests you do whatever "it" is, and then move on, rather than staying glued to the internet/TV/paper for hours. And if you can't do anything, he asks why are wasting precious time and energy on it at all? That serves no one.

    I think your "just one thing" is a very nice addition to his thinking. Because, really can't we all do "just one thing" for someone else?

  2. Thank you, Laure. I imagine all our efforts being like the ripples from a stone dropped into the water--starting small and spreading out to reach the shore. And I agree that worrying about what goes on in the world does no one any good and is a waste of precious time.

  3. Your writing is very thought provoking...Thanks for some time well spent here!