Sunday, March 4, 2012

Humbled & Giving: Let's Talk about the Good

One of my definitions of writing is this: the daily practice of empathy. Empathy isn't easy. It requires the will of imagination. Reading novels in particular allows us to create that bridge into another person's life experience. I believe that this action, this broadening, this crossing of the bridge can make us better human beings ... but ...

still I have to push myself to be empathetic in the here and now -- to really look out on the world and its ample suffering, to gaze at the things that are hard to even consider much less try to understand and, in some small measure, feel. And while I'm out there hawking my wares and talking bookishness, some of my friends are doing incredible, humbling good works to make the world a better place. They push me to empathize, and I'm thankful for the shoves.

Here are a few friends who've humbled me recently and some good causes you might want to support.

If you visit the
this is what you'll find:

"In Spring of 2013, one million bones - made by artists, activists, and students - will flood our nation's capital.

"One Million Bones is a collaborative art installation designed to recognize the millions of victims and survivors who have been killed or displaced by ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burma.

"Our Mission is to create a visible movement that will increase global awareness of these atrocities while raising the critical funds needed to protect and aid displaced and vulnerable survivors.

"For One Million Bones to realize its vision, we need people to create and donate bones for this event."

My friend, Jane McPherson who has worked with victims of torture (as well as having a list of credentials and degrees after her name that stretch on indefinitely), has launched a number of local events to raise awareness of genocide. Her work here is staggering. The national project is called One Million Bones. (If you're local in Tallahassee, go to this link to see all of the wonderful events here in town. If you feel like really getting involved email Or you can give directly by clicking here.

And three more recent causes:

A good friend's daughter, Summer, is now college age and raising money to go to Africa on a medical mission. She is one of the most serious, devout, focused human beings I know and is currently studying to be a nurse. She is truly called to do this work. Even if you're not religiously inspired, listen, I know that Summer will be doing real hands-on good on this trip, helping to save lives and raise people's quality of life. If inspired, you can submit donations online by going to and give to Summer Shepherd.

My friend Joshua Roberts, a myeloma survivor, is running a 5k to raise money for the cause. He's alive today because others have given and worked toward inventing treatments. You can donate by clicking the link.

And one more for writers, readers & animal lovers -- the sister of novelist Randy Susan Myers is raising money for an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. The upcoming event is bookish so writers out there, send a couple of books for the cause. (Or click the link to just send cash.)