Sunday, February 1, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday.  I spent the day with my daughter working on Sacha Yaku, the non profit she and I started together, then we went to see Slumdog Millionaire.  I'm at a point in my life where actually having any of my kids home is a treat, so having Kendra here on my birthday was amazing.  Kendra is in between trips to the Amazon and Cuba, always working to make the world a better place for those most vulnerable.  Kendra starting including Gandhi's quote, "We must be the change we want to see in this world" at the bottom of all of her emails when she was 16.  Since then she has gone on to create more positive change in the world than many people do in a lifetime.  

Four years ago, Kendra took her personal journey to the next level by spending a semester in the Himalaya's.  She worked in an orphanage for severely malnourished children in Darjeeling, did a two week silent retreat in a monestary outside of Katmandu, trekked in the mountains with sherpas and visited Llasa in Tibet.  So seeing Slumdog Millionaire with her meant we could go to dinner afterward - Indian food of course - and reflect on the depth and the art of that movie with the benefit of her direct experience.  Nestled safely within the lame pretense of a game show and with all of the colors of india, the film powerfully addressed religious, caste, class, economic, and social dynamics that are India.  It also dove into the wellspring of fate that is so much a part of the belief system of many people in that part of the world and bundled up love with it.  

I used to be a complete pragmatist who believed that we achieve great things in the world by working hard and making sound decisions.  Now I believe that how we show up in the world for others may be even more important than all of the pragmatism in the world. When Kendra was a freshman at MIT she started work on the improbable and seemingly impossible task of making a World-bank funded, then orphaned, water project work in an indigenous community in the Amazon.  Over the years her hard work with the people has certainly been a component of her success in getting the system working and extending it to other communities.  What has clearly been more important is her unswerving faith that the community would get clean water and her clear intention to keep supporting the community until that happened.  I now believe that, like in Slumdog Millionaire, seemingly miraculous things happen when we're clear about what we want and show up as a source of positive energy and compassion for the people around us.

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