Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What would Dr. Brilliant do?

It was an encouraging news day on NPR this morning. The federal government decided that the swine flu really didn't turn out to be such a big deal and everyone should go back to school. And then they interviewed this guy, Dr. Larry Brilliant (gotta pay extra for a great name like that I bet). The Skoll Foundation, created in 1999 by Jeff Skoll, the first employee and first president of eBay, has set up the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund and hired Dr. Brilliant (with ties to Google I should add) to run it. The new Fund’s focus will be on fighting climate change, water scarcity, pandemics, nuclear proliferation and Middle East conflict. (You think you have a lot on YOUR plate!)

So listening to Dr. Brilliant on NPR, his goal was basically to solve ALL FIVE of these problems. Well, he had seen smallpox eliminated and didn't see any reason why these biggies couldn't be knocked out before lunch (me paraphrasing here). Now this guy has a history of successfully doing big things and has been generally working to help the human race for many years. You gotta think this is INTERESTING though. When asked how he would solve the Middle East conflict he talked about when they showed the movie Gandhi (translated, of course) to Palestinians who all went "ooh, aah" and started contemplating possible success from PEACEFUL resistance (my wording again).

I think about the times in my life when I have seen major change take place. I remember watching when people all of a sudden all seemed to wake up and say "Gee, smoking is dangerous and addictive, maybe somebody should do something about it". Keep in mind that even as a kid, I and everyone I knew already knew this well. But there was a whole change of attitude all of a sudden.

Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall. I know politically and in the hearts of people that wall had been chipped at for a long time but we just woke up and it was coming down and it was really surprising.

So my point is that change seems to involve many years of quiet, not-so-successful-looking work that suddenly is joined to grace, to God's "YES!" And it is done.

My mother was VERY involved in Obama's local campaign in her town. After the election the mobilized Obama troops did not want to just go home and forget about it. They organized themselves into a group of about 30 people. First they made a list of every problem in the town they might like to solve. Then they put the problems in groups or task forces and people picked the task forces they wanted to focus on. They got volunteers to attend every local public governmental meeting from city council to school board with the idea that if anything questionable goes on that they can respond as a group to it. That sounds bad. Maybe they hear of a need at the meetings where the group can help. My mom, in following school board meetings, learned about major changes and stepped in to help support the board after well-researching their proposal. OK, so this kind of organization is a little scary and you definitely hope it is on your side just because it is potentially so powerful.

Sometimes I wonder why we CANT just solve the world problems. Sometimes I feel that we can.

Let's consider abortion, if you like (or you can stop here because that is where this posting is going). I think it would be realistic to say that short of MAJOR DIVINE INTERVENTION we are not going to see it made illegal in the next few years. You may think good or bad about that but I think it is a safe-to-say fact.

Another major way those opposing abortion have worked is prayer. Personal prayer, public prayer, loud prayer, quiet prayer, fasting, sacrifices, etc. This has been somewhat successful and when the walls finally come down it will be because of this. However, there still seems to be such a long way to go.

So what if we think about solving this problem in a new way. How would Dr. Brilliant solve this problem? I don't think anyone would argue that people get abortions for reasons and pressures in their lives. SO many people want to see an end to abortion and many of these people have money. Do we really not have the ability to solve this problem? "We" cured smallpox. What if we set up hospitality houses all over the country for those with "reasons and pressures" and set out to try to deal with the "r and p". Is this woman on drugs? Build programs or provide some sort of assistance to get her off. Is she a teenager who will be kicked out of her house if her parents find out she is pregnant? Provide a caring place for her to go.

In bringing up this loaded topic I do not want to get into a political debate but I do pose the question to you. Maybe not "What would Jesus do?" but "What would Dr. Brilliant do?"

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