He passed away today. He was 106 years old. His life has been an incredible message of love, faith, hope and family- a message worth sharing with the world.
RIP Nelson. We will miss you.
My life is my message.— Mohandas K. Gandhi
Wow. That’s a pretty powerful quote, and in all honesty I am not sure I want MY life to be my message. Just the thought scares me. I do a lot of volunteer work, both locally and globally. I give a good amount of money to causes that are important to me, because I know cash keeps the lights on and people employed at non-profits. I always have a house packed to the rim with children at any given point in time (two of which actually belong to me). I feed, care, and nurture these bonus children as I would my own daughters. I do a lot of pro-bono volunteering, and I lead at least one group of volunteers a year to build with Habitat for Humanity International. My last volunteer trip was early October this year. It was a wonderfully funny, kind, and diverse group with myself and my co-leader in Egypt. Yet, I am not sure that I want my life to date- all 43 years- to be my legacy, and I will tell you why.
Because I can do better. I can do more. We as a country can do better. We as a country can do more.
At times, I have not been as kind as I could have been, or as generous as I should have been or as patient as my kids would have liked me to be. I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I could have done something to help someone and did not. Not acting was a choice.
I want my life’s message not to be about Desiree but Desiree AND the families, communities, and individuals that have I worked in partnership with over the years. The children that received services and the mothers that had access to health care because of my actions and my choices. I want my message to be that I actively helped create a culture of service in this country. That I was on the front line when the tide changed. SO that when you meet someone new at a party after you ask their name and where they live I want you to automatically ask, “Where do you volunteer?”
That’s not something I can do by myself. Its not something I want to do by myself. It will take a village. A collective of civic and corporate leaders have just issued the next generation of their report on “Reimagining Service,” following up their work on this subject last year. This is an important document which deserves attention – and response! What do you think? Go to ReimaginingService.org and click on the full report. Then become part of the discussion.
I do know one thing. If my life is my message, I vow that Act II will be grounded in my belief in the transformative power of service. Because serving others has changed me. It has healed me. It has made me more compassionate and open. It has given me skills that I have leveraged into a wonderful career. It has introduced me to generous people that I otherwise may have never met. Imagine who you would be today if you had spent 12 months when you were 23 teaching in Haiti or vaccinating children in Mongolia, or if you gave a year of your life to became an AmeriCorps member and ran after school programs in the inner city.
Yeah. THAT’S the message I want to share with the world.