Three ways you can simply change the world for the better

BlogHer Original Post

Why is it that we seem to be more generous, more compassionate over the holidays? Do I just notice it more, or are we more likely to extend a hand now than at other times in the calendar? There seems to be almost a longing to help, to see to it that giving is done in the best of ways.

Yet, everywhere I go, people also complain about the overcommercialization of Christmas. Rightly so. The song “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” or the latest in Neiman Marcus gifts for those who have more than their fair share is about as far from a quiet manger in Bethlehem as one can get . They make the reality of the need for generosity in this world stand out in stark clarity. tells of the 2007 Neiman Marcus Christmas fantasy gifts:

--a dragon topiary created on your land with 15 indigenous plants and gold-leaf horns. It starts at $35,000.
--his and hers portraits done in chocolate syrup by artists Vik Muniz for $110,000.
--a treetent that sells for $50,000.
--the butterfly-covered two-seat ultalight aircraft used by documentary filmmaker Vico Gutierrez to create his movie The Flight of the Monarch which documents Monarch butterflies. It sells for $80,000.
--a classical music concert by the Kirov Orchestra for you and 499 friends. The concert will be filmed and is hosted by Regis Philbin. For $1.59 million you also get to keep the piano.
--a two-person Neiman Marcus edition Gem Triton submarine that sells for $1.44 million and comes with a gemstone keychain.
--the Swami conversational robot which runs off an included laptop PC and can hold conversations, recognize family members and give advice. It sells for $75,000.
a 305-carat uncut diamond which will be turned into custom necklace designed by Diamonds in the Rough to your specifications. It starts at $1 million.
--a Vertu phone designed by Frank Nuovo with pink and white diamonds for $73,000.
--your own plane in the Rocket Racing league complete with training for pilots and pit crew and support for one year for $2 million.
--an online media wall for $100,000.
--and the car this year is a special 2008 Lexus IS F special-edition which goes on sale October 18 and sells for $68,000.

I read things like this and want to start crying. People actually have been known to buy this stuff, and to think it means something wonderful about themselves.

On the one hand I can stand here and point fingers all day long at THEIR excess, because it is just so easy. But on the other hand, do I need all the excess in my own life? Granted, it is at a much smaller scale. But do I need it? Are people going hungry because of me, too? Yes, they are. Because of me and because of you and because of anyone who has more than they do, people suffer.

Isn’t it shocking when that happens – when we realize that the bad guy looks like us, at least a little? But brace yourself. What follows is not a dreary polemic about how we all need to walk around in sackcloth and ashes to be real human beings. Shame helps no one. Positive action helps everyone.

I used to think that I needed to be 100% green, needed to boycott all the businesses that engaged in unfair practices, needed to be entirely scrupulous about every aspect of my moral life.

And if God had made me a saint, maybe I could do that. But He didn’t; and I am not; and I can’t.

All I know is that I can do more than I am doing. I can be more active than I have been in making the world a better place for all. In terms familiar to me, I could be living my faith more fully.

So……….. I want to start thinking about what three things I can do in the next few months that I am not doing now. And then I want to do them. And then I’d like to challenge all of you to do the same. Pick three things to do that you are not doing now that can help the world be a better place. Then do them.

They can be tiny or big. They can cost money or just time. But whatever the thing is, it will help someone else, or improve the world in some way. Do them by April 1st.

One you do them, see if you want to re-enlist yourself for another three.

Here is my beginning list.


1. Beth Kantor – you amaze me. I want to help with your efforts in Cambodia. Yes, I did donate, but can you use my time in some way? Email if you are interested and I will send my resume.

2. I plan to visit multiple times and to spend good and helpful time with at least two elderly folks who are old family friends, each now living alone, and each dealing with loneliness.

3. I will bring my own grocery bags when grocery shopping.

This isn’t a very big list, and there isn’t a lot of drama to it, but it feels helpful.

What is on your list? Post it, please – it gets very real that way.

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