Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Saving the World - One Person at a Time ; Everyday People, Not Just Billionaires, Can Make a Big Difference in People's Lives

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Saving the World - One Person at a Time ; Everyday People, Not Just Billionaires, Can Make a Big Difference in People's Lives

Article excerpt

Warren Buffet recently donated $31 billion to the Gates Foundation, representing the largest charitable donation in United States history.

It's wonderful to see people with tremendous resources do great good. I was also struck by the apparent glee with which Mr. Buffet made this decision. It was as if he had decided not only to make a difference in the world, but also to enjoy doing it.

Most people would like to have the resources of a Warren Buffet. And I believe many would like to be able to make the kind of positive impact that a person can make with the benefit of great wealth. People often say, "If I won the lottery I would..." And then they mention a charitable act they would perform if they had enough. They might send a relative's child to college, build pure-water systems in thirdworld countries, or support a homeless shelter.

I work in schools where the need is great, and I often wished that I could help some of the kids I worked with. If I were to win the lottery, I thought, I'd have enough to do the things that seemed generous beyond my means.

But one day as I talked with one of my little clients about my life and my children, I realized that, in his eyes, I had more than he could imagine! It gave me a quick jolt of insight into what is important and what is enough. That summer his teacher and I sent the little boy to camp. He and his mom were homeless, and it was the first time in ages that he had spent so many nights in the same bed.

The wonderful but perhaps daunting truth is that right under each of our noses is some act, more powerful than we might realize, that in one person's life could make a huge difference. My work brings me into a community where the need is great, but the opportunity to make big differences with small acts is even greater.

Looking at the big picture, there are so many problems in the world and so much need that it can be overwhelming. …

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