At breakfast this morning, my family was reflecting on our summer. “The highlight of summer so far,” my elder daughter, Tara (13 years old), said, “was attending the World Games for the Special Olympics.”
My family is incredibly blessed, and our summer has included concerts, Broadway shows, world travel, lots of good food, relaxation, Disneyland and many other highlights. As my younger daughter, Leela (11 years old), nodded enthusiastically, I was moved by what an extraordinary statement they were making.
We attended the Opening Ceremony of the World Games for Special Olympics last weekend. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities that provides year-round training and competition for 4.4 Million athletes in 170 countries.
A few weeks ago while in Washington D.C. with my father, I attended a private dinner with Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics. Tim was passionate and articulate about the event, as well as dispelling some of the assumptions even we had about people with intellectual disabilities. Tim is truly a humble champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and the Shriver family must be applauded for taking an event that his mother, Eunice Shriver, started over 40 years ago and making it into a global social movement that it is today. As written about in this NY Times piece, Special Olympics and The Burden of Happiness, there is a long way still to go. The World Games truly felt like a Utopian world, and the stark reality for many of these people is very different and one is reminded of the need to champion human rights for all. Continue reading
Long have we told stories about, shared our tears with, sought freedom in the sea.
Returning to those waters is simple with 72% of our earth being covered by water, but do we take this massive, silent treasure for granted?
June 8th is recognized as World Oceans Day and the opportunity to remember our responsibility to our oceans and those residents of the sea is one we shouldn’t take lightly.
Some of our greatest minds remind us what the ocean means and represents: Continue reading
Last week the new Twitter account @POTUS of President Obama became a lightning rod for the worst in social media behavior. Within minutes of its setup, as reported in the New York Times, the account was flooded with vitriolic racist tweets, complete with hideous images, including one of Mr. Obama with his neck in a noose. Many troubling issues arise from this shameful behavior, but at the center is shame itself.
Behavior on the Internet, Twitter, and other social media outlets has become shameless, and at the same time, these outlets are being used to publicly shame people, especially innocent high school students being electronically bullied by cruel classmates. Shameless behavior has no consequences, and social media and the Internet afford easy anonymity. Put these two elements together, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for anti-social trends that keep building and building. Continue reading
There are lists for everything.
FBI’s Most Wanted.
But we are truly excited to see Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2015 where even the “bottom” of the list includes amazing innovators in science, technology, family and global health. It is a beautiful diverse group of men and women alike who have lived lives of intent, followed their passion, and in turn, are currently impacting the world for the better. Continue reading
Feeling guilty about climate change hasn’t proved to be a good motivator. The most recent report on greenhouse gas emissions puts March at a record-breaking level of emissions. Presidential urging doesn’t move Congress to take significant steps at solving the issue. The world community passes well-meaning resolutions that don’t lead to major global cooperation.
We are headed on a downward track, and everybody knows it. But we already know that guilt is a poor motivator. Fear is somewhat better, because it implies imminent harm, yet if the Earth is the Titanic and climate change is the iceberg, there’s enough open sea between us and catastrophe to lull the passengers into one more round of champagne and caviar. Continue reading
The devastation from the earthquake in Nepal is beginning to settle in now that the panic of the momentous quake and aftershocks, the search for loved ones, and the reality that over 4000 lives (and counting) have been lost. In my conversations with Caryl Stern, the President of the US Fund for UNICEF, and reading her book, I Believe In Zero, I began to understand more about the different phases of emergency relief, particularly the critical time frame of the first response systems, and then the long term needs to help people survive disease, hunger, and lack of resources that follow such a tragedy.
Many countries immediately offered aid and relief efforts to Nepal. Similarly, organizations like UNICEF, the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations are set up operationally to get into the country quickly. Here is a list from the NY Times of such organizations:
NY Times List of Organizations for Donating to Nepal Support Continue reading
In early 2009, international reporter Laura Ling found herself in China standing on the boundary of North Korea as she sought to bring attention to North Korean refugees escaping the region. This was not the first time Ling was in a high-pressure area but she was not expecting to find herself captured and indefinitely detained by North Korean military.
She was so far from her family and was unsure whether she would ever return home. She was able to receive letters from home and knew that candlelight vigils were being held in the hope of seeing her safely returned, but in the midst of a tumultuous political climate, who know if that would happen? In the space of not knowing what her future would hold, Ling began a practice that would change her life forever. She shares her moving story here: Continue reading
I have a memory of a family lunch at a famous seafood restaurant in Boston. I was 14 years old and my brother, Gotham, was 11. After ordering our food, members of the Boston Celtics basketball team marched through the entrance, scattering themselves among tables near us. Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, Robert Parish – they were all there. Gotham stopped breathing. Not because he had choked on a piece of swordfish – but because he could not contain his excitement. His eyes went wide with disbelief. He literally could not speak.
My father was appalled. “These are just kids who can throw a ball in a hoop,” he chastised Gotham. “Doctors, scientists, humanitarians, these are the heroes you should be worshipping!” Gotham ignored my dad. He was in a sacred place, and nothing could take away his joy. The fact was my brother’s Religion was Sports, and these were his gods. Continue reading
It was only a few days ago that this 200 year old mummy was discovered in the Mongolian province of Songinokhairkhan but the questions it’s caused will take some time to answer. The mummy was found covered in animal hide, revealing what appears to be a man meditating in Lotus position. Continue reading
It was over this last holiday season that a media giant like Sony had to seriously consider pulling a new film as a result of threats against theaters showing “The Interview” and movie-goers seeing it. Why the threats? Because it depicted the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Many had things to say about the situation- was is wise to safe-guard human life by simply withdrawing a film? Was it an act of cowardice to cave to the demands of terrorists? Strong language either way and you could argue both points. Who would’ve expected that a Seth Rogen and James Franco movie would be something having to be discussed by the President and his cabinet?
Now, only a day ago, it is believed that militant extremists are responsible for entering the French offices belonging to cartoonists of the renown satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo, gunning down 12. The outpouring today has reflected not only grief over the loss of dear human life, but on something even greater- the attack on freedom of human expression. Cartoonists all over the globe released tributes to their fallen artists, one citing humor as a dangerous profession, but it’s more than just humor. It is our words, our freedom to feel and create some to explain what is going on in our heads and our hearts.
Today we share words of freedom and liberty from those who have and are still fighting for it in so many ways in every corner of the globe.