fabulous birds of the sea

i don’t know if you all suffer from this malady as well, but when i look at the world around me lately, i far too often see more reasons to despair than to have hope. (climate change, stagnant economy, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, violence, government at a standstill, a lack of common kindness in our daily life, a sense that it’s all out of control and is only downhill from here… cheerful i know.) it’s so easy to get lost, or maybe stuck is a better word, in the daily doldrums; to have your world shrink to be just what exists between the walls of your cubicle, car, and home… and the icky bits stick out so much more when your worldview shrinks to such a narrow prism of (relative–i mean i do live in american for goodness sake) despair.

while the internet can be a black hole that sucks in your time and energy, leaving you feeling drained and disconnected, depressed about the state of the world, i think its most redeeming feature is the ability to share small stories–the kind that will never make the news, the kind where the stars are ordinary people, and the emphasis is on compassion, connection, care–and to share these stories with people all across the world. this is the major good that technology can do: show us the human stories, remind us we are all the same, and to remind us that there is goodness, compassion, beauty, and love all around us.

i recently discovered a series of videos on vimeo called “focus forward films.” these are all short (three to five minute) stories, beautifully told, about good things that are happening in our world. these stories give me hope. these stories make me feel like maybe, just maybe, we aren’t doomed despite the enormous challenges we are facing. just maybe, there is enough kindness and love left in the world, enough people with vision and the tenacity to cling to it, that we can chip away at some of these big challenges and carve out a tiny bit of meaning for our lives–meaning that is more than material goods, or size of income, or career successes, or political affiliation, or whatever other mostly meaningless ways our lives seem to be measured. there is hope, and here is the proof.

a book i recently read grappled deeply with this concern with hope, and i had to copy this quote down because it just resonated so strongly:

Ghandi… pointed out that big problems need small solutions. Big problems need one courageous and willing person. Big problems need you doing what you desire to do and doing it with great authority, great knowledge, and great love. Maybe, just maybe, once you have picked up a tool at hand and started to work, someone will say of you, using a wonderful African proverb implying that someone is attempting something far beyond what is comfortable or maybe even possible for them: ‘She has gone in search of the fabulous birds of the sea’

-Janisse Ray, from The Seed Underground

i couldn’t choose what one video to feature, so i’m giving you a list. i promise if you watch just one, you will feel better about the world. and if you watch them all, well, you might just feel inspired to do more good in the world than you thought was possible. just enough inspired to be brave, generous, kind, and compassionate in a culture that rewards none of those things. it doesn’t take much to make a difference, as these videos show: sharing one good idea, asking one good question, reaching out to one person. may you be inspired to go out in search of those fabulous birds of the sea.

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<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51854254″>The Gift | Jean-Marc Abela</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43119366″>New Gift | Supriyo Sen</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/42702493″>Good Bread | Eddie Schmidt</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51890020″>Landfill Harmonic | Juliana Penaranda-Loftus & Alejandra Nash</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51886928″>Gaia Soil | Greener Media</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/43043051″>Remote Area Medical | Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51884523″>Grow | Vladimir Druts</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51834071″>Catching Fire | Ward Serrill</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/51820034″>MAKAPADS | Francois Vaxelaire & Sara Fusco</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/45919632″>Operation Free Lunch | Lixin Fan</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/focusf”>Focus Forward Films</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

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