Roman, Jessica, Betty & Me
Posted February 10, 2010on:
I can’t tell you how much inspiration for this blog comes from my morning walk. Today, I was talking about humor and my friend Betty told me she is not very good at telling jokes except for one that was the favorite of her late father, Roman Brunner. She heard it too many times not to remember it. Here it is.
A man opened his lunch box at noon, looked at it in disappointment and said, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” He closed it and went back to work.
The next day at lunch, he opened it again, saw what it was and said in frustration, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches again.” He slammed it shut and went back to the job.
After he did so on the third straight day, his friends said, “Why don’t you tell your wife to stop making you peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? She’ll make you something else.”
“Why should I blame my wife?” he asked. “I make my own lunch.”
That really resonated with me. We do make our own lunches. We are responsible for ourselves and for our mistakes.
I’m not suggesting I am responsible for getting breast cancer. But life happens. I am responsible for how I handle it. It does no good to blame anyone else or make anyone else’s life miserable.
And by the way, I make lots of smart aleck comments and use humor to help me get through everything, but I stink at telling jokes themselves.
Later today, I will speak to an Optimists Club in La Crosse at noon – next week I will speak to another Optimists Club at breakfast. Talking about optimism with the Optimists is a little like sending coal to New Castle.
But I am a former eternal pessimist turned optimist.
I woke up early this morning – an hour before usual – because I had this talk on my mind. Actually, I had forgotten that I was supposed to give this talk until my reminder email. Yikes. I had a dentist appointment that I had to change.
This morning as I jotted down notes for the talk, I turned on CNN and heard a story about a 14-year-old Seattle girl who at age 11 created a charity to send children of Rwanda to school. She was so appalled by the condition of children in Rwanda that Jessica Markowitz decided to do something about it. She also felt a kinship to these children whose families had been destroyed by genocide because of the experience of her grandfather in Europe during the Holocaust.
Her effort was so successful – raising about $75,000 – that she was awarded the 2009 World of Children Founders Award at UNICEF in New York. (At the time she had raised $40,000.) She donated the $15,000 prize for the award, which one blogger described as like the Nobel Prize for kids, to help build a library in Rwanda. She has been to that African nation once and plans to go again this summer.
Five chapters of her charity called IMPUWE — the Rwandan word for compassion — have opened in five more Seattle high schools. The name also stands for “inspire and motivate powerful, undiscovered women with education,” Markowitz said in a Seattle Times article about her in October 2009.
Also on that CNN report there was a mention of the number of children raising money for charity. The reporter noted an old proverb that related to what the children were accomplishing despite their very young ages:
Why can birds fly? Because they believe they can.
We all should believe and fly. And we should be inspired by these kids who are doing what we should be doing as adults.