This past Friday I was interviewed by students from a local college for their "Peace Studies" class. Over the years, this particular school has pegged me as a "peacemaker" which is so cool I can hardly stand it.
The smart and curious young men and women sitting around the table asked a slew of great questions. The very first question was, "What do you think makes you a peacemaker?" Without even thinking I replied, "I'm a middle child. That's what I do."
They laughed - a couple of them nodded because they knew exactly what I was talking about.
Of course, we went a lot deeper than that over the course of the next hour. We talked about how paralyzing it can be to want to help make the world a better place when there is more suffering than we can ever possibly comprehend. I found myself stressing how important it is (at least for me) to narrow the scope of any project so that I can successfully provide assistance to a realistic number of folks. In providing a leg-up to those in need, I am reaching across the table, taking a hand, walking forward with him or her and spreading some peace in a small corner of the world. I am honoring the dignity of another person, and that has a lot to do with making a difference - and with peacemaking.
Rather than trying to solve world hunger, I have chosen to help in Kansas City by providing food to my local food bank and funds to Operation Breakthrough. Rather than trying to feed all those who are hungry in Africa, I have opted to work in Uganda. In Uganda, I cannot possibly help all of its 2.5 million orphans, so I have elected to give what I can to 180 of them - those who live at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home.
I told the college students the starfish story.
And I told them about the smart, determined, lovely children who are going to school because of the generosity of people who have chosen to support my organization, Change the Truth.
One starfish at a time… the boy on the beach threw them back into the water. "I just gave that one a chance!" he called as he watched it sail forward and splash into the water. He reached down into the sand where thousands of other starfish remained helplessly washed up on the shore, picked up another and tossed it into the sea. "I just gave that one a chance!" And on and on. The old man who had approached him and shouted, "You'll never make a difference here. There are too many!" began to see things differently.
Please enjoy these smiling faces, photographed recently by CTT Team 8 member Suzanne Garr. They represent about half of the students we currently sponsor in secondary school and university. If you have played a role in getting them where they are by writing a pen pal letter, volunteering at a CTT event, donating art supplies, clothing, books, toothpaste or even a $5 bill over the years, then you, too, are a peacemaker.