“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”

morebirthdays_blogbadge3The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”  Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.


So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.


Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.


I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world.  We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.


Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).


Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.


Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.


So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Myanmar, China, and Charity.

Burmese

The stories of Myanmar and China will soon leave the media. Unfortunately we cannot rely on popular news outlets to keep us informed. Our media culture is suffering from cronic, industry wide, ADHD. Like hungry fish they are easy lured away, biting at anything shiny or new in a senseless game of catch and release.


Myanmar officials have raised the death toll to 78,000. The number will be higher tomorrow. If we are enabled to extend our hands to those who are suffering, what kind of creatures are we if we choose to stay our hands and sit on our wallets?


Here are two simple ways you can help those in need; make a donation to CARE International or to LDS Philanthropies.


CARE International accepts donations of $50.00 or more and 90% of your donations are allocated to community development and emergency relief worldwide.


LDS Philanthropies accepts donations of one dollar or more and 100% of your donation will be directed to emergency relief for either Myanmar or China. You can designate where you want the funds allocated.


Administrative costs are funded through other means allowing 100% of donor contributions to be directed to those in need. Although LDS Philanthropies is associated with a church, no proselyting is involved. Humanitarian relief is distributed to those in need without regard to race, gender, religion, political, or social affiliation.


Here is a link to an article explaining how both organizations have partnered with the UPS Foundation to deliver supplies to Myanmar.


Sometimes the suffering of the innocent can bring about a unity of heart. Now is the time to let the suffering of those in Myanmar and China bring greater unity to us all.


“Permanently Suspicious of Myself

Below is a quote from Václav Havel on the importance of self evaluation for those in possession of power. 

Being in power makes me permanently suspicious of myself. What is more, I suddenly have a greater understanding of those who are starting to lose their battle with the temptations of power. In attempting to persuade themselves that they are still merely serving their [organization], they increasingly persuade themselves of nothing more than their own excellence, and begin to take their privileges for granted.

Honest, regular self evaluation is extremely important.

Do We Know Enough?

 Collective

Today, as I look across Atlanta from my desk, my thoughts are drawn to the challenges of life. When I consider the thousands of people within my view on the downtown connector, in office buildings, and on the streets I’m led to ask this question; do we know enough? Do we know enough collectively to solve the big problems. Problems like violence, dishonesty, and apathy.

I’m optimistic. I believe we know enough to end dishonesty and violence in all their malignant forms. The question is; do we want them to end?

Here is one example. Are the millions who say they would never steal or kill willing to give up the rush of violence by proxy? It seems to be a great contradiction to praise peace while conditioning the heart and mind to enjoy brutality via the entertainment industry. If digital thieves and assassins are the heroes, who are we?

Of the thousands of people in my view every day, how many are suffering right now because the rest of us are slightly off course? Is our fast paced proxy culture distracting us from fulfilling our human design?

Are we willing to examine our collective appetite and make personal changes?

I’m not suggesting more laws or regulations. I’m suggesting we stop and ask ourselves if we know enough to make more of a difference with our time and our talents, than we’re making today.

We are each endowed with the right to self regulate. What will be our social foot print?

Walk for Trash

walk_for_trash.jpg 

That’s right, walk for trash. We walk for autism, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other causes yet we are missing an opportunity. What if we picked up trash as we walked? It may sound crazy but think of the benefits. It could be a catalyst for shifting our understanding of individual and communal responsibility.  

There is a sense of nobility in working for a cause. It’s as if the experience recalibrates our minds and we want to do better and be better. We want to make a difference and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Yet there is a gap between the feelings brought on by helping those who, for the most part, experience suffering by no fault of their own and the feelings we have about picking up trash others have left behind.

What causes us to segregate our sense of responsibility and charity? Can we transcend this gap and bring those same kind of noble feelings with us as we pick up trash? Can we take our sacrifice to the next level, do the uncomfortable, and clean up the messes others left behind? I believe we can.

Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me; I cannot find a valid excuse for littering. Equally foreign is the idea that it is someone else’s responsibility to clean up.  What will happen if just one person takes a pair of gloves and a few trash bags to the next walk and cleans up along the way? What if it’s two people the next time, then ten people, then fifty, then one hundred? What difference will the one have made for the other ninety nine? What if walk organizers picked roads that need work? How would this increase our sense of ownership for the roadways we clean? How could this small individually driven challenge shift our culture of responsibility and conservancy?

The answers to these questions are too valuable to ignore.