Monday, May 2, 2011

Half the Sky. Or, even a sliver of sky will do.

In preparation for Nicholas Kristof's visit to McMinnville this evening, I have been re-reading some parts of his book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. There is much to take away from this book, but there is one piece in particular that I find resonates with me on many levels. For those of you not familiar with this book, Mr. Kristof and his co-author and wife Sheryl WuDunn ( a Pulitzer prize-winning team, no less) have presented a book that challenges us to work towards the end of oppression for women worldwide, effectively aiding in the end of global poverty. One small bit really caught me. In this chapter, Kristof and WuDunn address the hows and some of the whys of helping women living in deplorable conditions in brothels and as slaves. Just as I start to feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities (yes, I believe that it IS a responsibility of those who can help to do so), the authors give me a pass, of sorts. I will quote them since I have never won a Pulitzer:

"We may not succeed in educating all the girls in poor countries, or in preventing all women from dying in childbirth, or in saving all the girls who are imprisoned in brothels. But we think of Neth and remember a Hawaiian parable taught to us my Naka Nathanial, the former Times videographer, himself a Hawaiian:
A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water.
"What are you doing, son?" the man asks. "You see how many starfish there are? You'll never make a difference."
The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean.
"It sure made a difference to that one," he said."

I really appreciate this perspective. Sometimes in this world I am overwhelmed by all the opportunities/responsibilities that I feel I must complete. Help people in need. Provide quality education for all. Feed the hungry. Recycle and save the planet. It is great to be reminded that every little bit, no matter how seemingly insignificant, actually does make a difference.