Monday, November 7, 2011

19 (and 18) Days of Thankfulness

Today I am thankful for two to make up for missing Saturday:
First, I am thankful for water. You often forget how important water is for life (whether it be our planet or our bodies).

We just reached 7 billion people on planet earth and 1/7 of that (nearly 1 billion) people live without clean drinking water. Clean, drinkable water is such a vital asset of life and when you have the great fortune of living in a country with drinkable water highly accessible, you sometimes forget that.

Water surrounds our everyday lives. To replenish our bodies, to bring life to plants and trees, to clean our laundry, dishes, cars, bodies, etc. We rely on water and we can often take it for granted by wasting it.

Sadly, when something is so crucial to life, someone/company tries to profit. One film that I highly recommend checking out --which will forever change the way you look at the bottled water industry-- is called Taped. Check out their website which discusses the injustices and robbery of free municipal water.

But --like everything-- with every negative, like the previously mentioned rich water bottling companies, there is a positive. That positive is the awareness and overall charitable actions of those so lucky to have water and money to donate to a good cause like The Water Project. This great foundation provides information and ways to help those in need of fresh, clean water.

While in Africa, I got to see many people who's lives revolved around water specifically. Their days were driven by the long, grueling trips to water for their families. And their use of it was conservative and strategic. When living in a home where the water was literally looked at as "liquid gold" or one's "life blood" your perspective is changed. I challenge you to donate to such a great charity that can changes the lives of not millions, but billions of people. (Be sure to check out as well for more information)

The second thing I am thankful for ties into the water discussion and that is charities and being aware of the world around you.

Earlier this year I wrote an article about an amazing company called 1 % For the Planet (and no it has nothing to do with the political class warfare going on in America right now). The organization has encouraged companies to donate 1% of their sales revenue to various environmental charities. The co-founder is the owner of Patagonia clothing, Yvon Chouinard, and since 1985 he has donated 1% of the company's massive sales, totaling over $40 million in cash for a variety of charities. The foundation is truly spectacular and I highly endorse such a great grassroots organization. From small "ma and pa" stores to some of the world's largest donors, 1% is changing the world that we live in.

One last charity that I feel necessary to discuss is Network for Good which has over 100,000 non-profits that rely on this website/foundation for charitable donations. I specifically mention this because of my beloved country of Thailand is in a dire crisis.

Nearly the entire city of Bangkok is flooded. I have dozens of friends and people I call family struggling to deal with these horrifically high waters that are taking over my favorite city in the world. The entire country is being affected by this crisis as the Prime Minister has asked for international assistance on the matter. Photos from here...

Within a land so rich in history and peacefulness, the past two years for Thailand have been controlled by terribly upsetting events like the political protests resulting in over 80 killed and now these floods which are leaving millions homeless. The famed sites in Bangkok like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho are being destroyed by the high waters while industries and businesses are being completely whipped out. It breaks my heart.

Seeing the photos from the floods brings me to tears, but one that rescues my sorrows for my old homeland, is this first photo. It truly shows the spirit of Thailand, that even in absolutely hellish times, life is still worth living and nothing shows it more than on the smiles of these Buddhist monks in the photo below:

Please do your part to try and help those in need, from Africa to Asia to America, helping your fellow man, woman and child is the only true way to find peace on this earth. As His Holiness says:
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."

Being aware of the injustices and struggles that surrounds us all in life is actually beyond necessary to being a moral human being. And I hope that by bringing up the discussion of strong films, websites, charities, and foundations, your awareness grows. The more you know, the more important you are to the human race and the more merit in life you earn. Let us all be thankful for those who are compassionate.

Note: I think about how vital Bangkok relies on their water, from the Chao Praya River for fish and transportation to the small Klong Nam which is the man-made tributaries that run throughout the city. I am currently editing photos for a new exhibit called "Along the Klong" and it shows the vast range of livelihoods that rely on the Klong as it can be the bathing water for some very poor families and then the sewage hole to other wealthy families. It's juxtaposition is eye-opening and I hope to capture it very closely with my next exhibit (some photos below).

No comments: