My children want to buy a water buffalo for Christmas. Thankfully not for themselves, but for children living in a faraway place whose lives would be improved by the presence of a water buffalo. As city kids they’ve never actually been near a water buffalo, but as boys who attend school every day and always have access to a glass of milk when hungry or thirsty, they are moved by the fact that a gift of a water buffalo might help a kid just like them be able to attend school or go to sleep with a full belly just like they do.
To be fair, my husband and I planted the seeds for buying a water buffalo. Even before the boys were born we donated to domestic and international organizations dedicated to helping those in need. Engaging our children in this tradition is important to us for a variety of reasons.
One reason it is so important to me is because I believe that the difference between doing something to improve the world we live in is infinitely different than doing nothing.
This concept was first crystallized for me by Dr. Carl Larson during a lecture he gave a number of years ago to a group of health care leaders. In fact, Dr. Larson choked up a bit when he passionately remarked, “the difference between doing something and doing nothing is infinite.” He and Frank LaFasto further explore this notion in their recent book, The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us. Mr. LaFasto explains more in a video describing the research they conducted with 31 humanitarian leaders. He states,
Everyone started small. There was oftentimes this first, small, tentative step…Everyone, somehow, went from doing nothing to doing something…In the process, in that petri dish of going from nothing to something, all of a sudden a humanitarian leader was born.
Tomorrow is Colorado Gives Day. One of the easiest ways to “do something” is to donate to a cause you believe in. Give tomorrow if you can. If a monetary donation is not possible, make a resolution in the New Year to get involved in some other way. If you are frustrated with our elected officials, become one. If you are concerned about something in your neighborhood, convene a meeting with neighbors to talk about it. If you want to support those in need in your local community, join up with efforts being led by local faith-based institutions or community organizations.
For those of us in the health care field, 2013 will be a sentinel year for preparing for big changes in our health care system. Get involved by sharing your story, joining the CCMU policy committee, or learning about a local community health alliance.
If we all take that step and do something, no matter how small, the difference we can make is infinite.