Tara's Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

I published this post six years ago.  It has gotten only more relevant as time passes.  As we reach this year’s Thanksgiving celebration I give thanks for those in public service who actually understand that their jobs exist to serve the public.

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)  was a playwright, journalist, public speaker and champion of the working class.  He wrote more than 60 plays in his lifetime and was the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name).

Many of us may be surprised to learn that he was also a co-founder of the London School of Economics.  No slouch he.

In stark contrast to the attitudes of so many of our currently elected officials, here is his statement about public service:

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

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Image I lost a friend this week.  His name was John Glass and he was a hero in the very real sense of the word.

John and his wife, Judy Glass, are well-known in the progressive community in Los Angeles. They are, and she will still be, staunch supporters of organizations that work for peace and social justice. John’s central cause for the past handful of years was the single-payer health care movement.  He believed that health care is a right, not a priviledge, and should be available to everyone without the constraints of a particular employer or the limitations of insurance companies dictating what doctors can provide based on their own self-serving priorities.

I have known John for almost 40 years. He was a giver from the word “go” and never stopped focusing on making the world a better place for us all.  Throughout his career John was a sociologist, a professor, a volunteer coordinator for non-profit organizations, a therapist, a published author and a friend to the working man.  Every choice he made was in the service of others and with the true intention of helping and healing the world and the human heart.

Talk to anyone who knew John and practically the first thing they will recall is his enthusiasm about the social causes and political candidates he supported.  He always carried fliers with him for whatever rally or event was coming up and would invariably offer the fliers to whoever was within earshot with a bold statement encouraging his audience to attend. Show up! Make your voice heard! Make a difference!

John died Tuesday night, May 9, 2012, at the age of 76, after a week-long battle with pneumonia and a lifetime battle against the dragons that seek to diminish the individual spirit.  He will be missed by many and our work to regain the dignity of the common man will be made harder for his absence.

Of all the responses we received to our announcement of John’s death this was the one that hit me the hardest and is, I believe, the perfect statement of how John’s life affected the world in which he lived:

The average person lost a friend this week.
The people John Glass helped the most will never 
know who John Glass was. That was John Glass.

Jeff Bornstein

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it begets more violence. With violence, you can murder the hater but you just increase the hate.  Hate cannot drive out hate. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that; only love can drive out hate.”

                                      – The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With the unprecedented emergence of civil unrest around the world  images of massive, coordinated efforts by diverse populations gathering in the streets to make themselves heard by the powers-that-be have been presented to us by the media as never before.   These efforts have been met by governmental violence and suppression of civilian rights in shocking ways.

I chanced upon the following story this morning and was stunned by the simple beauty and courage of this response to violence and hate.

 

In 1992 an artillery shell killed twenty-two innocent civilians standing in a bread line in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Vedran Smailovic, a former principal cellist for the Sarajevo Opera, responded by donning his tuxedo, bringing his instrument to the bomb site and performing alone for the next twenty-two days as the shelling continued. Twenty two days, amid shrapnel and sniper fire, Smailovic played; one day for each of the twenty-two friends and neighbors who had been killed.

http://myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=vedrans

In 1997, after hearing this story, 10-year-old Jason Crowe, was moved to action. He is working to create a tribute to the spirit of the Bosnian people in the form of the Children’s International Peace & Harmony Statue, to be shipped to Bosnia as a gift from peace-loving people around the world, especially children.

“We will inherit the new millennium and we must voice our desire for peace and show the world we are willing to work for it. The statue itself will be our voice giving us a way to shout, ‘Never again must mean never again’.

The Children’s International Peace and Harmony Statue will depict and honor: 1. The spirit of all Bosnians who have lived through or died in the madness of ethnic cleansing; 2. The spirit of harmony that cries on like a lone cello in a world full of violence which refuses to listen; and 3. The spirit of children around the world who want peace and harmony, not war and genocide, as their legacy in the new millennium.

 For more information or to support Jason’s project go to: 

http://myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=jasoncrowe

Literacy is the key to overcoming so many of the challenges we face in our lives.  Being able to read  – and having access to books, something many children do not have –  opens the door for so much. The most obvious result of better literacy is a better education which leads to better job skills and a better chance to be able to support yourself and feed your family.  But beyond that books are resources for problem solving and creativity that will  give a child a way to look at the world beyond what they themselves experience.  That last result, gaining the knowledge that there are many ways of being in this world and there are other perspectives just as valuable and just as valid as yours, is the first step to developing empathy. Empathy is an invaluable and necessary tool for building understanding and compassion for other people and other cultures.  And that’s the first step to reducing the fear, hate, war, poverty and greed that seems to have overtaken our society.

 Give a child a book. That simple act can open so many doors.

 Here’s a way to give books to kids with a single click – and it’s FREE!  Go to the link below and bookmark The Literacy Site.  You can click on the “Click here to give – it’s free!” button and the site will donate for you

 http://www.theliteracysite.com/tpc/TLS_linktous 


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As a member of the Americana-Folk/Rock band, John Zipperer & Friends, Tara performs in around Los Angeles, CA (with an occasional out-of-town appearance). Come see for yourself why John Zipperer's CD "Full Circle" has been on the top 25 of the Roots Music Report Album Chart for over a year!

Tara Sitser - Author / Singer/Songwriter

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