Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Most Boring Charity Fundraiser Ever

December 4, 2008

Found on the Yahoo! homepage.

Children’s hospitals ride shotgun on the Desert Bus.

By Ben Silverman

The thought of playing a video game for charity sounds great on paper, but spend a few hours driving the Desert Bus, and you might have second thoughts.

In an effort to raise money for charity, comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun has been playing the infamous video game ‘Desert Bus’ nonstop.

First seen in the obscure Sega CD game, Penn and Teller’s Smoke & Mirrors (yes, that Penn and Teller), the ‘Desert Bus’ tasks players with driving a bus from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada. In real-time. The game cannot be paused and the bus won’t go faster than 45 mph. Plus, it slightly veers to the right, so you can’t just put something heavy on the controller and let the game play itself. The cruel result is considered by many to be the most boring game of all time, an 8-hour feat of gaming endurance few have had the will to outlast.

The folks at LoadingReadyRun, however, have been playing the mind-numbing game for over five days, but they do have an incentive. Donors must pay to keep the crew playing, and the longer they play, the more it costs.

It seems to be working. So far, the newly re-minted ‘Desert Bus For Hope’ has raised nearly $60,000 for the charitable organization Child’s Play, which benefits children’s hospitals across the country. You can catch more info — including a live stream of the, uh, “action” — here.

They have apparently completed the game and raised $69,476.00. Kudos to them for coming up with a…creative way to help a worthy cause at a great time of year.

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Nov 5: Post Election Day thoughts

November 5, 2008

The seemingly interminable Presidential campaign has at last been terminated. Barack Obama will be our next president. With the day upon us, my wife and I breathed a collective sigh of relief. The relief only grew as drew on and the final results came in.

I was impressed by McCain’s concession speech. While it included many obligatory lines, I felt McCain made some very genuine, gracious statements. They recalled the man whom I admired in the 2000 campaign, for whom I voted in the primaries in 1999, and who has been absent far too often in the intervening years. I’m glad to have sighted him again. Hopefully he will reemerge in the new Senate.

I was rather confident that Obama would win this election, and I’m grateful that my confidence was not misplaced. I chose to vote for Nader as the best possible choice. But while I believe McCain would have been an improvement over the current administration (his choice for Vice President notwithstanding), Obama is the mainstream candidate under whom I have the most hope for a more progressive direction to our government.

Race is no reason to elect a President, but last night race certainly was a reason to celebrate a President. The ugly stains of bigotry were still dark and widespread in the fabric of our country not so long ago (it is within my lifetime that the LDS Church finally surrendered its own racist policies). Nor has racism been expunged from the republic. Yet this election is an enormous symbolic step for blacks and other minorities. We should relish that step and the jubilation of our minority sisters and brothers who feel empowered, inspired, and validated by this moment.

Obama’s acceptance speech was brilliant. I was moved by the humility, by the solemn tone, by the broader perspective of the task ahead. Of course, being a marvelous speaker does not make one a great president. I’ve been somewhat skeptical of the number of Obamaniacs who seem smitten solely based on his oratorical skills. Obama obviously has intelligence and incredible poise, but only time will tell whether he has the virtue, wisdom, and the fortitude to be a truly great president. We will see whether he has the character to bring people together to change course, or whether “Change” was merely a cynical political slogan. We will learn if he can make the honest political compromises necessary in government without being compromised.

But no matter how Obama turns out, we should take inspiration from his beautiful address last night. The focus of the speech was not “Yes I will,” but “Yes we can.” No matter how magnificent a president he may turn out to be, he cannot solve all of our problems. His wisecracks at the recent charity dinner aside, Obama is not Superman. Conversely, no matter how inept or unprincipled he might reveal himself to be, we are neither powerless nor incapable of reforming our nation from the grassroots up. As Obama pointed out, this nation has made remarkable steps towards overcoming its flaws—not without stumbles and serious deviations from time to time; but improvement nonetheless. That progress, slow as it may be, has only occurred through the determined effort of people throughout society.

In this period in which we face many serious challenges, we can and must harness the energy catalyzed by the Obama campaign before it fizzles out. We can mobilize the youth who supported Obama in such numbers to continue to follow the liberal impulses which drew them in. We can recognize that, despite what Palin and those of her persuasion believe, community activism and organizing are noble and meaningful pursuits. We can put aside the self-interest which has played such a dominant part of the nation’s ideology to instead focus on sustaining the community; looking to care for the earth which supports us all, as well as for the needy, the downtrodden, and “the least of these.”

Yes we can.

A Prayer for Compassion

December 20, 2007

Rob reminds his readers of the need for compassion, empathy, and charity with a great prayer. An important message to consider at this time of year.

Real Christmas Spirit

December 18, 2007

Now here‘s a family which understands Christmas.

No doubt, they are hardly unique. I’m sure there are many individuals and families around the nation (and world) who forgo the conventional commodified Christmas for one more representative of him for whom the holiday is named. But we’re so bombarded by slick ads, cloying Christmas specials and bad music that these simple and yet powerful acts of Christian charity are overlooked and undervalued.

The Brand family may not be receiving presents this year, but the gifts they will obtain through their unselfishness will be priceless.

(Thanks to Farnsworth for the heads-up)

My Library(Thing)

October 1, 2007

Ever since I first decided to put together my blog, I’ve mulled over the idea of creating a page on which I would list the books which I’ve found particularly enlightening, inspiring, and influential on my perspective; an annotated bibliography, if you will, of my ideology.

I’ve since realized I don’t need to completely create that book list page. There are plenty of resources on the web to help me. So I’ve started a LibraryThing page. I’ve only entered a handful of books for now. Over time, I’ll continue to add new books as I read them and old books that have influenced me or that I feel are particularly historically relevant (as time permits, anyway). I’ve added a link for it on my sidebar.

Celebrating Mothers Day

May 13, 2007

Breakfast in bed; gifts made with crayon, construction paper, popsicle sticks, and Elmer’s glue; songs sung enthusiastically off-key by the Primary during sacrament meeting; and flowers passed out after the service.

These are the sorts of things we associate with Mother’s Day in the Utah Mormon culture in which I grew up. I was fascinated a few years ago when I learned that originally Mothers Day represented so much more. Mothers and activists such as Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” promoted Mother’s Day as a day to rally Mothers to social activism. They recognized that while husbands and sons traditionally go off to fight and kill for glory, prosperity, or some ostensibly noble cause, it is the mothers (and wives, and daughters) who are left to pick up the pieces after the destruction: holding broken families together, mourning the lost, caring for those injured in body or mind, and carrying on after the smoke clears. They understood that it is the mothers who traditionally share the sorrow for the downtrodden of society as they are used and abused by the powerful elements of society, mothers who seek to support and heal. And they saw that the very essence motherhood, the formation of a human body within their wombs, is a creative, life-giving and -affirming role. Those pioneering mothers of Mother’s Day advocated a day to celebrate and harness the stereotypically maternal values: nurturing, healing, peace, conciliation, cooperation, empathy, humility.

How much better would the world be if we, led by the mothers who have exemplified those values in our lives, were to promote those values more boldly in our communities and nations? What better way to honor motherhood than to organize as activists to implement actions more consistent with those values? I believe that the more we appreciate and honor the traditionally maternal values in our social mores and the deeds of our governments, the world would be far advanced from what it is now, dominated as it is by the masculine values of aggression, competition, and ambition.

I was encouraged to read the words of a prominent woman and mother, Queen Noon of Jordan, calling for mothers—and all those who honor motherhood—to become active in promoting peace and charity once again (Thanks to Steve Olsen of The Utah Amicus). Its worth a read. And while you’re at it, see what Rediscovering Mothers Day is doing take up the banner of maternal values in the world.

It is interesting that there was recently a discussion in the comments of one of my posts on the capability of women to act as leaders of nations. While it was shown that there have been some large few women who have succeeded in that role, all have done so in patriarchal societies, and have had to prove themselves by proving themselves in masculine values. How different might things be if women who stood for the maternal values held the reigns?

I tend to think that the Lord gave men the role of leader within the Church not because men are more suited to the role, but in order that the men, through the responsibilities which the Lord gives his leaders and the Lord’s guidance which he gives them as they seek to fulfill their role as servant-leader in the mold of Christ, might develop those humble, nurturant, supposedly feminine traits which typically come so naturally to our mothers.

It is our mothers—their spirits, values, love, and dedication—that sow the seeds of hope from which decent people, communities, and the Church itself can grow. For all you mothers out there: Happy Mother’s Day!

Green Eyes in Africa

December 2, 2006

Yesterday on KCPW, Ryan Hansen, founder of the Green Eyes in Africa, presented his story about the condition of orphans in Cameroon and his efforts to open the New Hope Orphanage there. It is quite an inspiring story. Give it a listen here, under December 1.

Tank Man

April 11, 2006

I have a very un-macho thing to confess. I get choked up every time I see the tank man.

You know who I mean.

Tiananmen Square. 1989. The government is pulling out all the stops to stamp out the peaceful demonstration for political change. The military has been called in. A column of tanks is rolling down the multi-lane street. And this guy steps out in front of the tanks. He doesn’t appear to be a demonstrator. He looks like some guy on his way home from work with a couple of bags of groceries. And for whatever reason, he just walks out a few feet in front of the tanks and stops. The tank hesitates, and then tries to drive around the guy. But this guy slides back and forth, making sure he is standing directly in front of the tank. And this tank–this column of tanks–is stopped. This one man holds up millions of dollars of Weapons of Mid-level Destruction. It only lasts a few minutes before (if I recall correctly) a handful of men run out to grab this guy and usher him out of sight. Police or soldiers whisking him off to disappear permanently? Friends rushing him off before he gets himself in serious trouble? I’ve no idea. But in those few minutes, he burned himself into (albeit anonymous) immortality in the minds of people around the world.

Seriously, my throat is constricting and my eyes watering even as I write this. I honestly get choked up. Embarrassing but true. I’m that emotionally invested in that image.

This man represents so much I believe in on a social/political level. Just an average person, a regular guy, standing up against evil (not the tank driver per se, but the use of force and political oppression). He has to know he can’t win. He can’t win the revolution. He can’t bring down the government of Bejing. If he is identified, he faces certain imprisonment at the least. He can’t even stop this column of tanks from going where they want to go.

But he does it anyway.

He walks in front of the tanks because, no matter how futile, he is standing for what is right.

And for a few brief moments, he wins.

It shows immense courage. Incredible conviction.

And what a display of hope and faith in humanity! He could not have walked out there if he did not have faith in the goodness of humanity. He had the hope that, no matter what his orders and to whom he was loyal, the tank commander was ultimately a decent human being; that he wouldn’t casually roll over one harmless man.

That is the man I aspire to be. I want to stand for what is true, noble, and good, no matter the odds. I want to have the positive belief that I can do some good simply by doing what is right. I want to believe that I will be doing some good by fighting for what appears to be futile causes when those causes are just. And I want to have the integrity to stand for something not just when I have planned the action, but when important opportunities present themselves.

Tonight on local PBS affiliate, Frontline is presenting an episode on the Tank Man (more info here). I can’t wait to watch and learn more about him and his legacy. I have no idea if Tank Man has ever been identified or if we will learn his fate. Hopefully he isn’t languishing in some prison, but who knows? I can’t wait to learn whatever there is to learn, and I look forward to the time after this life when I can express my appreciation to him for the example he has set.