I have written several posts now about how my heart got involved with Little Ripples. These next few are about how my head got involved as well. I once had a conversation with a three-year-old girl that has stayed with me for years. The little girl came running up to me during my very first summer as a preschool assistant:
Madeline: “Miss E! That boy just took my shovel and he won’t give it back!”
Me (trying to be calm, reasonable, objective teacher-in-training, also trying to give the accused shovel-thief the benefit of the doubt): “Oh, that’s interesting, Madeline. Let’s go over together and see what’s going on with him.”
Madeline (takes my hand): “Ok, but it’s not interesting at all. It’s just very, very sad.”
Having access to information is one of the mixed blessings of the world that we live in. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of news that there is out there, so many stories telling us exactly how bad things are, how many different ways humans have found to hurt ourselves, each other and our planet. When I first started writing for i-ACT, I had a friend who asked that I stop posting information about the program. “I mean, I understand that it’s important,” she said. “But it’s just too depressing!” And I get it. Genocide IS depressing. Sadness, discouragement, and even crippling despair in the face of so much negativity are very normal, very human reactions. The problems are so big and we are so small; sometimes there is that voice of doubt inside telling us, “You can’t save everyone. You can’t make a difference against such great odds. So why try? Why bother? What can one person do?”
My father is a family physician in a small town where office hours are more of a suggestion and consultations regularly happen in the grocery store; my sister is a nurse specializing in neonatal cardiovascular ICUs. They are also (in my unbiased opinion) two of the finest people that I have the privilege to know. Perhaps for this reason, I always think of this issue in medical terms: I am just one person. There is so much that I cannot do, so many people that I cannot help. But in the field of medicine, your focus is on the patient who is in front of you –that one person you can help, the one thing you can give, the one place where you can take a stand.
When I discovered i-ACT’s Little Ripples program, I was thrilled to find a place where my particular skill set (curriculum development and design) could be put to some good use beyond my day-to-day work here in New Mexico. It seemed both amazing and fortuitous that I could support this group and their work by just doing something that I do professionally and routinely in the rest of my life. I am not sure that WHAT we as individuals do is the deciding factor; whether we spread word or raise funds, offer logistical support or write grant proposals or blogposts. I think it is THAT we act that is important. For me, action – in whatever form it can take – is the antidote to despair. I act because I have hope.
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