Wednesday, November 30, 2016

do the right thing

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a great man, usually referred to with the honorific Mahatma, meaning venerable, and most often thought of as a leader of non-violence.  He is often quoted and had some wonderful things to say about doing the right thing.

It is easy to do the "expected thing."  Many folks do the "thing that will bring them the most recognition."  The "right thing though is often the toughest - frequently it is not the popular thing to do.

“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important," according to Gandhi. "You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing."
 
Gandhi was so very wise.  He went on to say "You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

being healthy

Being healthy does not just mean eating right and going to the gym.  Our individual health depends on a number of factors and it is important for us to pay close attention.  Regular check-ups are important and knowledge of changes in medicine and in healthy living standards.
 
I've written here about leukemia and other cancers and about AIDS, and although I'm not a doctor (and certainly am not trying to be everyone's mother), but we should all know a little about the many diseases that exist, not to diagnose ourselves, but to be aware when something in our body just isn't right.  Early detection is often the key with many things that can attack us.  If we want to change the world, we need to have the strength and energy to do it!
 
Being healthy leads to being happy.  If our bodies feel good, our minds will likely join in!  Eat your fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise, but don't stop there. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nice

"Have a nice day!" we tell folks. Many years ago, I used to close my radio program saying "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." I think we can all agree that NICE is good.  I also used to say that nice is never out of style!

George Foreman was a fighter, so it might surprise you that he spoke of the importance of being nice. Foreman said "It's very important that people know that I really enjoy everything that has happened to me. And I tell my kids 'you're not going to be the tallest, fastest, prettiest, the best track runner, but you can be the nicest human being that someone has ever met in their life.' And I just want to leave that legacy that being nice is a true treasure."

The nice people you encounter today, the nice moments you experience, will warm your heart and you will remember them far longer than any bad moments. Make somebody's day.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Givers and Takers

There are two kinds of people in this world:  givers and takers.  It is very likely that the takers eat better, but I am absolutely certain that the givers sleep better!  (Someone, Marlo Thomas I think, said that before).

I am so blessed to know many, many givers!  I definitely am acquainted with more givers than takers.  How wonderful, huh?

In the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul tells us to "remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I would add that being givers is certainly wonderful, but there are times when we have to let others give to us.  It is certainly not a bad thing to graciously accept a gift.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Amendment of life

Last year I wrote here that we need to stop telling the untrue story about Thanksgiving and finally admit to the horrible deeds of our ancestors. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. I like the idea of gathering with family and friends. I enjoy the traditional food. I like the whole idea of giving thanks. I can easily separate all of that from those "first Thanksgiving" stories, because I don't think that is why we gather today. I always think it is important to mend our errors though.

Yes, I didn't do those horrible things, and neither did you, but it was done on our land and in the name of this country. We need to admit it. We also need to move forward and vow to never do anything like that. Let's also look at the good things we have done and the good that have happened in our lives. Our ancestors committed horrors, but they certainly did some positive things as well. We might personally have never done anything that can be described as horrible, but we can still apologize on their behalf. Then, we need to move on.

"Thanksgiving Day has baggage to be sure - in fact, with the atrocities committed, baggage is an understatement. I'm not suggesting we should ignore it either. Perhaps we need to re-invent the day. My suggestion though is that we continue to give thanks; that we continue to gather together. Let us do so honestly though, making reparations for our past, and looking ahead with thankful hearts for all the good that we can be." Those were my words here last year, and I still believe this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Story from a taxi driver

Once before, I shared this story with you that I had found on the internet.  The author is unknown, but it was not me.  I'm sharing it again because several people have requested it.  I have no idea if any of it is true, but I do know how inspirational it is.  I hope you agree -


A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The list just keeps on growing

The list of ways to make a difference is endless.  From time to time I have shared some thought here.  Today I have some more!
 
Open the door for another person. Give blood. Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through. As you go about your day, pick up trash. Call or visit a homebound person. Pay a compliment at least once a day. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
 
Leave an extra-large tip for the waitperson (if you can afford to). Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving. Give the gift of your smile. Draw names at work/school and have people bring a small gift or treat for their secret pal. Sponsor people in fundraising walk-a-thons.
 
The gift of sharing can be awesome too, so please do share your own ideas!  You can do it below in the comments section!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Smell the flowers along the way

What do you see? A brown eyed susan? A beautiful blue sky? A brightly colored roof? There is beauty everywhere just as there is good all around us. We only need to look and listen and smell and hear and feel.
 
To really make a difference in this world we need to have open minds and open hearts and open eyes.  We need to enjoy life.  We need to smell those flowers!  Really.  I used to say that every day and I mean it.  No, you don't have to actually bend down and put your nose to a flower, but you need to live! 
 
We have so much to give and it all starts with love.  Smell the flowers along the way.  They're only here for a very short time and they need a lot of love to grow!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Inspired by Kennedy

When I was young, Robert Francis Kennedy was the junior US Senator from New York State, where I was growing up.  I remember him saying “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Those words had a profound impact on me.

Robert Kennedy's life was cut short by a bullet, but he had already gotten my attention.  I don't know how many lives he touched; we never know such things.  I do know that ever since I have been trying to not only get involved and make a difference in the world, but to motivate others to participate too.  I really believe that it was Senator Kennedy who inspired me.

We may not all be inspired by a Kennedy, but we all can give back to this world of ours.  It isn't important that we give in a certain way - the important thing is that we just do it!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Boxing with Chieh Huang

Just over three years ago, an incredible company was launched in the garage of Chieh Huang. I LOVE their products and I LOVE their service, but this isn't a shopping blog, and most of you know that I never talk about commercial operations. I do want to tell you about Mr Huang though because it seems he is some sort of saint.

As CEO of this company, called Boxed, you might expect him to be sitting in some stuffy office, issuing orders to all his underlings. Nope. Not this guy. Although I have never spoken to him, I've been reading a lot, and it seems his employees adore him. Is that because he pitches in and works alongside everyone? Is it because last year he announced a College Tuition fund for his employees' kids? Is it because he said they would pay for the weddings of their employees, up to $20,000? Is it because he has provided an endless supply of Boxed snacks? People who work at Boxed say Huang has a heart of gold. By the way, Boxed was named to the 2016 Best Places to Work in New York City.

Last month Boxed employees volunteered at Riverside Park on New York City's Upper West Side. The donate time to many great causes, in fact just this week Boxed workers put together 50 boxes filled with toiletry items for parents of pediatric cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The company, and individual employees, are generous with donations of money too.

I could go on and on, because this is an organization that really believes in giving back, and there are numerous examples. I'm happy to be a customer, and I'm even happier that people like this still exist in our world! You can find out more at their website, https://www.boxed.com/ (and although, I don't endorse businesses on this blog, you can also place orders via that site with no delivery charge on the first order). Chieh Huang and Boxed - definitely making this a better world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

what can YOU do?

This isn't a new question.  I've asked it before and others certainly have as well.  You might have even asked this of yourself:  What can YOU do?  In keeping with the theme of this blog, the question really goes much farther.  How many different ways can you make a difference in this world of ours?
 
If you have absolutely no idea, you might want to read some of what we have written about here in the past.  Then, clear your mind and think about things important to you.  Do you care particularly about human rights or health care or fighting poverty or teaching language or protecting animals or any number of other things?  Is there a pet project you would like to work on?  Think about it.
 
We ALL can do wonderful things.  We ALL can make a difference.  It doesn't have to be just one thing either.  We can do many different things.  Some of this may involve your time or your abilities and some of this might involve your money.  Perhaps some of the things you might do involve organizing other people.  Whatever it is, figure it out and do it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The passing of a journalist's journalist

Through my many years in broadcast journalism, I never met Gwen Ifill, but I'm sure glad she came our way. Hearing news of her passing yesterday after a months long bout with cancer, brought me to tears, and more tears have flowed at various points since then, as I hear tribute after tribute.

Gwen Ifill, who co-anchored the PBS News Hour, was referred to as "a journalist’s journalist," and every single thing I have heard about her has been positive. Last night, everyone was reporting her death and her own program devoted much of it's time to memories of her.
 
One of her contemporaries said that her office almost looked like a museum because of all the trophies and awards. Earlier this year she added to the many, receiving the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from Columbia University. Oh and she's received more than twenty honorary doctorates.

I was touched by her strong faith too. She was a minister's daughter, and that frequently means you run away from the church, but she was very involved. Her pastor said yesterday that she was present each week for worship

I remember the Gwen Ifill years at NBC, because during part of that time, I worked for an NBC affiliate. Her former colleague Pete Williams was brought to tears yesterday several times when he tried to report on her life. Former NewsHour reporter Charlayne Hunter-Gault began sobbing as well. Fighting back his own tears, CNN's Don Lemon closed his thoughts to Gwen Ifill with: "I won't say goodbye, because goodbyes are so hard. But I will say, so long and thank you."

There are countless stories that I could retell here, but the biggest thing is that she made a difference. She was a trailblazer for African Americans and for women and she was a mentor to many. She was fair and honest and she was always real. Gwen Ifill will be missed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

It's my life

He is one of the nicest guys in the world. You already know him as an excellent singer, a gifted songwriter, a superb produced, and a fine actor, but Jon Bon Jovi makes a difference in this world by doing much more than entertain us. He get's involved. You may already know about his political activism from some recent news stories, but his chartable involvement is even greater.

Jon Bon Jovi has done things for Covenant House, the Special Olympics, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Project HOME, and the American Red Cross, to name just a few. He was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions. He's also raised awareness with Habitat for Humanity for the past eleven years. Bon Jovi has done work too for STOMP Out Bullying, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Save The Music Foundation, Musicians on Call, and more. It seems like I hear about some good thing he has done, just about every day.

Oh and then there is the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which he founded. This is a really exciting operation that helps a lot of people. I'll let you find out details for yourself from their website at http://www.jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org/ - be sure to read about JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, NJ too. It's a remarkable concept that feeds and teaches and much more. Click HERE to get a lot more information about the kitchen.
 
After listening to him sing It's My Life one day, I made it my unofficial theme song.  The song inspires me, but much more, Jon Bon Jovi inspires me.  I've never met this man, and I didn't even interview him for this (my information all comes from numerous public sources), but this is someone who makes a difference.  Our blog is all about giving back, and this guy could easily be our poster boy.  I never have seen such a giver.  Support his efforts.  Consider donating to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation or volunteering your time. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

what Veterans Day asks all of us to think about

Just moments ago at Arlington National Cemetery, President Barack Obama laid a wreath and made a statement, saying in part "Today, on Veterans Day, we honor those who honored our country with its highest form of service: You who once wore the uniform of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. We owe you our thanks. We owe you our respect. And we owe you our freedom."

The President went on to say "On Veterans Day, we acknowledge, humbly, that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same that they served us. But we can try. We can practice kindness. We can pay it forward. We can volunteer. We can serve. We can respect one another. We can always get each other’s backs.

"That is what Veterans Day asks all of us to think about. The person you pass as you walk down the street might not be wearing our nation’s uniform today. But consider for a moment that a year or a decade or a generation ago, he or she might have been one of our fellow citizens who was willing to lay down their life for strangers like us. And we can show how much we love our country by loving our neighbors as ourselves."
 
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, Barack Obama right now is our Commander-In-Chief and his words ring so true.  I hope that we all will learn from them.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Yield

You’re driving down the street when suddenly you see a flashing light behind you and you hear a siren. What should you do? Apparently some folks think to correct answer is step on the gas and try to beat the emergency vehicle, as you proceed on down the street. WRONG!

Let’s take just a moment to remember what it is that emergency vehicles do. An ambulance transports sick or injured people to hospitals and medical centers. More often than not, when an ambulance is involved, the patient is in urgent need of care and every minute counts. Fire trucks sometimes respond to medical calls and various random emergencies, but most of the time they are headed to fires, where once again, every minute counts. Police may be responding to any number of calls – a hostage situation for example, or a murder, robbery, or rape. Again, time is of the essence.

The flashing lights and sirens were developed to signal people that this is a vehicle that needs priority treatment. Please yield. Of course one very good reason for doing so is that it is the law, and a heavy fine can hit you for not yielding. The better reason though is that it is simply the right thing to do. Would you like someone to die because you blocked an ambulance? Would you like someone to lose their house because you didn’t let the fire truck through?

You can make all the difference in the world with just a bit of road courtesy. Yield to the first sound of a siren!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

differences

Take a look at the image to the left. Most of you will see three logs if you look at the picture from the left side. However, if you look at it from the right, there appears to be four logs. Hold on! How can this be? Keep looking at it. Two different realities.

Reality can be so complex that equally valid observations from differing perspectives can appear to contradict each other. If you disagree with someone, don't be too quick to dismiss them though. Take a step back and try to look at things from all sides. Perhaps there is more than one correct answer.  This picture is proof.

While it is true that everything is not as simple as this drawing, sometimes our differences aren't really that big a deal after all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brought to you by the letter G

Today's blog entry is brought to you by the letter G (as in good).  There is good all around us.  More and more people are doing good things!  Since that's what we write about here, it's really pretty exciting - we have so much more to talk about!

Along the way we always like hearing from you.  Tell us about the good in your lives.  Tell us what you think of all this good.  Share your stories of good in our world. 

I certainly don't know about all the people out there making a difference, so help me out and bring us your stories too! Tell us about some of those especially inspiring good people that you know.  We really need to share this good!

Monday, November 7, 2016

just one

Picture this for a moment. You have one chance - one opportunity to change things for the better. Imagine. You can do something so wonderful. Picture this in your mind. Think about it. I'm not talking about lists. I'm not talking about doing something marvelous every single minute or every single day of your life. I'm talking here about one chance to do great. Just one. Think about it for a moment. Study it for a while.

Now imagine one more thing: Imagine everyone doing one great thing. Imagine how great things could be if we ALL got on board and made a difference. Just one.  If we all did just one incredible thing.  Think about it. Pretty incredible, huh?

It does not have to start out big at all. It can start with just one. You can be that one!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Give something back

Giving something back is not just one simple formula. There are so many ways of giving back and they all make a difference in this world of ours.

Pay a compliment at least once a day or go even further and say something nice to everyone you meet today. It doesn't even cost you a penny. Volunteer to read to kids in the library - that doesn't cost anything either, and oh what a reward you will get! Donate time at a senior center, at a hospital, or an animal shelter.  There are so many possibilities.

Oh course giving of material gifts including money is very helpful too.  Some folks are able to do this more often than others.  Give up that morning cup of coffee and use that money to donate to a cause - you see, it doesn't have to be difficult.  Everyone though can give of themselves, even if it is just occasionally.

Try it!  You will immediately be glad you did.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Get involved

You have probably already heard some form of this, (it is a story that has been told and retold over and over) but it bears repeating:

“This is a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody asked Anybody.”

Get the picture? Get involved!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ordinary folks

Do you need to have a certain level of education or do you need a large bank account or must you be of a certain age or race or religion or ethnicity to be a hero?  Do you have to be a man to be a hero?  That might seem like an odd question, but think about it for a moment.  Who do you consider your own heroes?  Do they have anything in common?

I have found over the years that those who inspire me are all different.  Their age or sex or gender identity or wealth or life experience can all be different.  In real life, heroes don't wear capes. In real life heroes aren't always men and they don't need to be a certain height or of a certain race. In real life heroes don't necessarily even get much attention.  Being a hero isn't so much about who they are, but what they do.

Just about all of the people I consider heroes, are ordinary folks.  So what does that mean?  Who can be a hero?  Ordinary folks like you and me.  Every single one of us can he a hero!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Parable

This being All Saints' Day, how about a parable? A man was taken on a tour of both heaven and hell. In hell he was shown a banquet hall filled with diners seated at a table that was covered with all kinds of delicious food. Each person’s back and left arm were tied to the chair so that bending at the waist was impossible, and the left arm could not move. The right arm was stiffened so that the elbow would not bend. The people at the table could gaze at the delicious spread and they could smell the aroma of the food, but they were starving.

In heaven, the picture was the same – backs and left arms shackled, right arms stiffened – but the diners were feasting and rejoicing, because each diner used his stiffened right arm to feed the person to his or her right. It was a picture of people working together, in other words – it was cooperation. How wonderful!

Of course, we don’t have to wait to get to heaven to have this kind of teamwork. It really is quite easy to do things for each other, right here on earth! Oh and before you ask what part of the Bible this parable comes from - it doesn’t. This isn’t a parable of Jesus, but one that we mortals came up with and which has been told and re-told. The point is a very good one though: cooperation - helping others - making a difference. It's a story that illustrates the very thing we talk about here every day.

If you like your parables to come from Scripture and have to have some backup from the Bible, let’s look at the words of Blessed Paul the Apostle, who in his letter to the Philippians wrote “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” I could not have said it any better!