Friday, February 23, 2007

Mission Envy

I almost never envy the trappings of great wealth - the sleek cars, island retreats, designer cloths, or private jets. When I do find myself envious, or at least wistful, is when I read of the amazing work of people who have found a great mission in life and make an enormous difference. Today Trudy Rubin's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer featured Greg Mortenson, a plain old guy from Montana who through serendipity (actually he got lost mountain climbing!) wound up in an Afghan village.
He made himself useful by organizing a school for girls. Through his actions and the people he involved in this mission, over 58 schools now exist, all on a tiny amount of money, relatively speaking. His book about this experience is Three Cups of Tea. Just imagine that instead of spending the billions (nearing a trillion, I think?) on the Iraq war, we had invested in girls' education in the developing world.... Okay, I know that wasn't an option presented, but educating girls is one of the best low hanging fruits for bringing about massive social change around.

I've just sent them a donation. When I look over the checks I've written from the money my parents left me, I see that they are all gifts or contributions. My husband and I donate money jointly from our income to all kinds of organizations and causes, but these checks are different - I don't need to vet them with anyone. I would call these impulse contributions. We talk about impulse purchases, but let's also talk about impulse giving!

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