Thursday, March 26, 2009

Living in "Interesting" Times

Probably the most common question I have gotten as of late is "Is your nonprofit suffering in these hard economic times?” I thought since I’ve had this conversation several times, I’d share my answer in today’s blog.

First, I change the rhetoric around “these hard economic times.” Instead, I call them “interesting times.” Yes, there are powerful currents of change at play right now. Yes, many people are faced with real life challenges because of this. Yes, people are watching their money and keeping it closer to them. These things I believe are true. I also do believe that the shape shifting in our culture is part of a larger context, one that is much bigger than us and our country. In a larger sense, our priorities are being rearranged on a world level. I do feel a sense of peace that out of this ride we are all on, perhaps we have a chance for an even more compassionate set of values to frame our collective position in this world. Maybe we will notice how connected we all are…and how what happens here affects way beyond our borders, and the world outside of our borders suffers daily as well. Sometimes the suffering looks different, but it is there and as a world, we have a great responsibility to care for all.

If I woke up everyday and said to myself, “well, the hard economic times are horrible and I don’t think our organization will survive”—simply put, we wouldn’t survive. Inspiring people to believe in what you are doing takes an incredible amount of internal strength, and if you approach this task with any doubt, people inherently notice your lack of passion. Add fear to this mixture, and it is the worst fundraising no-no of all time in my book.

Thoughts are the power of the world. They are part of the blueprints of our lives. Do I worry? Absolutely. Not only for this organization I love, but for people who are faced with reinventing their lives. The most promising thing I can do for myself and for others is to stay in a place of inviting abundance—through my language, my actions, my internal work and the external representation of that work. Does this solve everything? No. But it allows me to approach each day with Presence and Hope. Do I falter? Yes, I go into fear. My immediate reaction is to not beat myself up about this and to bring myself to a place internally that is filled with more kindness and goodness. It’s an everyday journey.

I was given my greatest lessons about this state of being from living in Peru and working in Guatemala and Nepal—developing life conditions. Watching people so selflessly give up their precious food to a stranger like me that could’ve fed their children. Being in family togetherness over the last of the rice where mothers know the loss of several children because of preventable illness like diarrhea and dehydration. These were reminders to me of what I do have and what I am thankful for. These were reminders to me of what I had lost along the way that was about simple Joy. The suffering and Hope was there well before we started spindling. Many of us noticed. Many of us didn’t.

Some people think my position on Hope is naïve. That is OK. I’ll say that I would much rather be in a place of internal health and transforming positive power than carry dread and fear and anger in my heart. We express what we carry through us. My life is a living expression of all of this. I will choose to be Hope.

As for DiscoverHope, it is an expression of collective love that is far beyond my control. I’ve never “owned it” and never will. I will work to grow it and bring others around it to help grow it. It will shift into what it wants to be as “it grows up.” I may not always agree with it, but whatever happens, it has Hopeful and perfect purpose.

Keeping you in my heart through these “interesting” times, MM

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