Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ripples

Someone told me recently that I am unaware of the ripples I leave in the hearts and minds of others. Perhaps this Saturday afternoon, listening to a Mozart clarinet concerto, is the time to take stock of the ripples one sends out and the ones from which one comes.

We cannot live alone. Inescapably. No human infant would survive the first year without someone's care. We are all part of a chain.

We can, yes, live on our own -- provided we have a vast society around us. Someone somewhere is making sure the electricity is turned on and the water runs and even that the bus on which we commute is sent on its merry way on time.

I have been amazed about this since childhood.

Perhaps that's what it means to be a native New Yorker: to realize that someone had to get up to send off that garbage truck that wakes you up.

Similarly, someone -- parents -- had to have you and nurture you. We are in the nurturing chain. We are not islands, we are social animals.

We need to be mindful that we cannot live alone for long and thus respect all who nurture us -- which turns out to be all humanity.

My morning coffee was planted, grown and harvested thousands of miles away, in Colombia, Central America, Africa. The sugar I pour into it was cut by workers in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica.

The rubber in the tires of the bus that takes me to work might come from Thailand, Sri Lanka or Vietnam. The diesel fuel came from Saudi Arabia or Venezuela. The bus was made in Detroit.

Most of my computer at work was manufactured in Malaysia. The paper is probably from Canada. The ink we use might come from China.

I have the whole world in my palm, at my grasp -- every day.

Then there are the ripples I send out. The ripples that come from my working to repay all the work that brings all these things to me.

Also, the work to improve the working conditions of those who make my life possible. Someone said it better many years ago:
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
-- Robert F. Kennedy, Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966

Each time I act to echo back the nurture I receive, I send forth ripples of hope and love. Ripples of this kind, sent by all of us, could change the world.
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