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Choosing Empathy

In order to truly serve humanity, we must develop and foster our ability to empathize. There must be a constant flexing of our empathetic muscles.

We must embrace the risk of deeply engaging with other humans. It opens us up to disappointment, hurt, confusion, difficulty, betrayal and the unknown.

When you empathize, you allow your mind to experience something outside your own reality. In essence, you are provide a conduit for our soul to connect with another’s, for better or worse.

Empathy creates a relationship; one with the potential to elate or shatter us.

Life is easier when we keep to ourselves and create a habit of compartmentalizing and keeping humanity at arms length. They say ignorance is bliss. For most, ignorance is a choice. A choice not to engage more deeply with humanity.

But we can choose to go deeper; to allow ourselves to empathize. To truly understand the lives of others. To experience life more intensely. To open ourselves up to the extraordinary relationships and experiences discovered only through difficulty. To allow ourselves to be truly human.

As always, the choice is our own.

 

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The People With Power

“The power in people is so much stronger than the people in power.” {Bono}

Now, more than ever, the people have the power. We have the knowledge, access and the tools for change. We have the ability to create momentum and alter the status quo like never before.

We are democratizing our global society more and more each day. Revolutions are happening. It’s our choice to join. Our choice to embrace the power and opportunities we’ve been blessed with.

We are the people; the people with power. Remember this. Engage.

 

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Hold Fast

If you want to be a world changer, you must embrace your idealism. Hold fast to your ideals so passionately that your life becomes a mechanism for bringing them into fruition, no matter how outlandish.

Today, more than ever, it’s easy to be an idealist. We have more information, connectivity and inspiration at our fingertips than ever before.

The excuses that used to hold us back are no longer valid. The world has become accessible.

The Internet has become a bastion of endless chatter of achieving an egalitarian society. But it means nothing if our lives don’t reflect that altruistic idealism.

We cannot let apathy and the tug of the status quo prevent us from inciting positive change. We cannot allow “life” to prevent us from engaging and pursuing our passion for a more loving world.

If your life doesn’t reflect your idealism, you’ve squandered your greatest opportunity to be truly human.

 

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Strategize

Strategy isn’t a skill. It’s a discipline. It’s the result of being acutely aware of your surroundings, examining past experiences, listening intently, calculating, planning, playing out scenarios, accounting for variables and then making a logical decision based on those filters and analysis.

It takes patience, determination and years of trial and error to master. It often takes a healthy dose of empathy as well. Like anything else, you get better at it with practice.

My quality of life is much greater as a result of deliberately creating a habit of honing my strategizing skills. I have more time to think, create and enjoy life because I don’t have to spend so much time figuring things out, recovering losses or fixing mistakes I could have easily prevented. This practice results in a lot of inner peace and joy.

When I’m teaching my kids, mentoring a street kid, guiding an employee, teaching a budding entrepreneur or even consulting a seasoned philanthropist, the topic of strategy always rises to the top.

Strategy both employees, and fosters wisdom. It’s the discipline of problem solving. The constant practice of strategy alters your perspective over time, opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

As a humanitarian and consultant, I can’t think of any discipline more powerful and effective. If you want to help someone rise out of poverty or oppression, invest the time to mentor them into a strategist.

If you’re making a New Years resolution, consider investing time to become a better strategist. Make it a habit. It’s difficult in the beginning (like anything else worth doing), but the rewards are profound and lifelong.

*If you really want to make a profound humanitarian impact this year, invest your time in teaching strategy to someone in need, rather than just donating money. Money comes and goes. The wisdom of strategy will last a lifetime. And if you teach someone to strategize effectively, they’ll have a much better chance of managing money…strategically, in the future. 

 

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Million Dollar Mindset | Sara Martin

I don’t know if I’ve ever reposted someone’s blog before, but this one was very well written, and worth passing along.

Sara Martin is an excellent blogger, and very much of the same beliefs and lifestyle that I write about here.

In Sara’s post, she writes about the psychological and emotional journey she went on while daydreaming about winning the lottery. Her discoveries are applicable to everyone, and certainly an important aspect of philanthropy. You will see my comments below where I related it to altruism.

This is definitely worth a read. Check it out here.

Sara Martin is a writer, designer, and marketer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Learn more ways to maximize your creative life at ModernSentiment.com/blog

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NEW BLOG FEED

Friends,

I am so appreciative of everyone that subscribes to my blog. Unfortunately, due the ole Google and Feedburner merger, my subscribers are lost in cyber space. After months of trying to recover them, we’re still no further along than before. The record is gone.

So I need to create a new blog feed. I’ll be shutting this feed down directly after posting this, so you won’t receive any more posts unless you visit my site again and re-subscribe. So sorry for that!

If you would like to keep receiving my blog posts, please click HERE and visit my site for the new feed. (Or, If your on my site now, just look to the right side of the page.) I’m more inspired than ever and would be honored to share more thoughts and inspiration with you.  

All you have to do is enter your email address in the box to the right that says RSS Blog Feed, just like before. You already know I don’t use it for anything other than to push my blogs out to you. That’ll never change.

Again, thank you for caring to read my thoughts. It means so much to me.

Much love, Jared

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Patience Begets Peace

Conflict is inevitable, especially if you care enough to push for change. Common reactions to conflict are to avoid it entirely, deny it or fight it.

Governments and other democracies tend to find it easier, and quicker to just attack and destroy the opponent, rather than try and work it out. It’s more efficient in the short term. This is how wars are started.

If your solution to conflict entails someone else’s loss, you’ve fallen short of a potentially extraordinary conclusion.

Alternatively, there is a peaceful path. This path requires a response of listening objectively, problem solving, self control, resilience and commitment to a peaceful and mutually beneficial outcome.

Most importantly, this journey requires a great deal of patience. I’ve found that with liberal amounts of patience, almost anything is possible.

Violence begets violence. We’ve seen this all throughout history. Conversely, I believe patience begets peace. Peace is a product of patience.

When a country wants to stop atrocities or gain access to resources in another country, the tendency is to just go in with force. Why? It’s easier, quicker, and in the short term it serves the stronger country best. However, it almost never lasts and there is always bloodshed. They justify it by calling it “collateral damage”.

People often confuse patience and kindness with weakness. But which of the options I’ve just outlined reflects the most strength? Exhibiting patience and working diligently to find a mutually beneficial solution, or quickly resorting to violently taking what you want? To me, the later seems weak. Anyone can do that.

It would do us well, as an international society, to channel more energy and resources towards fostering more patience. However, with boom of technology, we are heading largely in the opposite direction. We’re a microwave society. We want it all and we want it now. No time to try and figure out a peaceful solution.

This dynamic is very narcissistic and negates all of the wisdom obtained through the journey that patience affords us. No patience, no wisdom.

Peace isn’t something we can force. It’s a process. And it only comes from the journey of discovery and relationship we experience while patiently working toward peace.

If you’re goal is a peaceful outcome, patience is likely the most essential aspect of the process.

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Break the Silence

The proliferation of the internet has resulted in a substantial increase in worldwide accountability. Big industries can’t get away with sweatshop labor as easily as before. Tyrannical dictators are being tracked down. Famines are being addressed. We’re watching now. And we’re empowering the masses. I’m grateful for this increasing phenomenon.

However, this dynamic also intimidates a lot of people out of speaking up. They feel like someone has said it better already or that they may say the wrong thing and then be humiliated online.

All of these aspects of modern life can influence people to keep quiet. “I am sure someone is already addressing this problem. What could I possibly have to offer?” Or, “If I say the wrong thing, I may get in trouble.”

But the worst fear people face is that of responsibility. If you speak up, we expect you to act.

Martin Luther King said it best when he said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Carmen De Monteflores, a Puerto Rican author/psychotherapist said, “Oppression can only survive through silence”. This is especially true in areas where people are taught from birth that they are to keep silent, no matter what. That rule of silence has kept their people powerless and oppressed for decades.

Our friends at Invisible Children have broken that habit of silence on a level that is nothing short of profound. They liberated thousands of youth across the world and got them in the habit of speaking up for what they believe in. I believe wholeheartedly that IC’s contribution to breaking the silence is just as powerful (if not more) as what they’re doing to apprehend Joseph Kony.

Do your homework, educate yourself and speak up. Don’t let “oppression survive through silence”. As a caring human being, you have a responsibility, and an opportunity (don’t forget that) to be a changemaker. You have that kind of power. It’s your choice to use it, or not. Either way, you’re making a choice.

And just like what we’re witnessing with IC, there is power in numbers. But it’s important to remember, each one of the youth that make up this revolutionary campaign had a moment where they questioned themselves but ultimately made the decision to speak up. That’s how movements begin.

I’d rather try to help and fail than fail to try at all. If nothing else, I’ll learn something that will help me be more effective the next time.

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Keep Her Sacred

In 1927, the Grand Council of American Indians made a statement about the colonization of America by “the white man”. Today we would call it “development”.

“The white people, who are trying to make us over in their image, they want us to be what they call “assimilated”, bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way.

We want freedom from the white man rather than to be integrated. We don’t want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt for fish and live in peace. We don’t want power, we don’t want to be congressmen, or bankers… we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.

The white man says there is ‘freedom and justice for all’. We have had “freedom and justice”, and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this.”

I’ve studied the history, culture, customs and ultimate plight of the American Indian since I was a young child. It’s in my blood and part of my heritage. It’s a heritage I am proud of.

It’s also a lifestyle that I find myself continually searching for in the modern world. Such a pure and beautiful way of living, untainted by the addictions to materialism and power that drive so much of society today. I would give anything to go back to the way of the American Indian. It’s something I continue to study and discuss in my daily life.

Europeans began colonizing the Americas in the 1500s. Since then, they have eliminated an estimated 19,000,000 American Indians and made a mockery out of their culture. Today, there are a mere 500,000 American Indians estimated to live in the United States, most of which are relegated to resource deprived reservations.

The American Indian culture has been mocked and commercialized ever since, culminating with the celebration of Thanksgiving. The culture, as it was, no longer exists in America.

Take a moment to imagine what America would look like today if Europeans had collaborated with, rather than annihilated the American Indian and their culture.

As I continually study development and philanthropy, I can’t help but see similarities in the past destruction of the American Indians in the current development of Africa (and other developing areas).

I pray that the west does not stamp out the unique culture and art of Africa, but that they would keep it sacred and flowing. I pray that Africa is not so seduced by the glamour and fame of the west to the extent that they trade in their souls for power and money. I pray that philanthropist, missionaries and aid workers alike would cherish the beauty of the ways of Africa, and keep them pure.

As you strive to do more good in the world, especially in Africa, I encourage you remember what happened to the American Indians and learn from the mistakes of those that came before us. This is a chance for a new start. A chance to preserve the heritage, culture, art and beauty of such a diverse continent.

This is a time to replace the quest for power, control and money with the way of love, creativity, peace, uniqueness and ubuntu.

Let us keep her sacred, lest we loose another irreplaceable contribution to the beauty of this world.

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Just Keep Giving

ilea (my queen) with a child from an IDP camp in gulu, uganda, 2007

Philanthropy is messy. It’s rare that you achieve exactly what you set out to accomplish. The process often involves a lot of frustration, tears, frustration and lack of resolve. Let’s face it; changing the world is no walk in the park.

And if you’re dealing with people, it’s likely they may not be grateful for your investment of time and care. It’s also likely they may choose not to implement your advice or properly utilize the resources you’ve provided.

You set out to achieve something, and then, boom; something completely illogical happens. Someone doesn’t show up. No one cared enough to finish or do it properly. Or worse yet, someone sabotages the program or robs you blind. It happens, often.

You ask yourself if you’re even doing any good. “Am I crazy? Doesn’t anyone care?”

But then I remember that I’m not doing this because of my strong desire to do something good. It’s not because I need a cool accomplishment to add to my collection I don’t do this for a pat on the back or gratitude. I don’t even expect those things. I don’t have anything to prove.

I don’t do what I do to “get results”. So often along the journey of pushing for a certain result, I will discover something even more beautiful and pure than what I was shooting for. And rather than being blinded by my ambition to achieve the original goal, I’m always open to that dynamic.

At the end of the day, I simply do this because I care. That’s enough. I care so much that I can’t stop trying. I can’t stop being an idealist. It doesn’t bother me when people think I’m naïve. When you have nothing to prove, the shackles fall off.

I just keep believing that if I care enough, and consistently listen and act, someone else will benefit from it. And when that’s the only goal, it’s easy to resolve to the fact that you don’t need resolution for a project to be successful You just keep pushing, knowing that somewhere along the way, someone is benefiting from the love you are giving, day in and day out.

If I constantly give love, I can’t go wrong. And I don’t need quantifiable results or an impressive P&L to experience joy from it. The joy comes from the giving. We have a right to giving. But that doesn’t mean we have a right to reaping the fruits of our labor.

The act of serving and giving has to be enough. Otherwise, it will never be…enough.

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