The Blue Sweater (by Jacqueline Novogratz)

I just devoured a book (sent from TED curator Chris Anderson) entitled The Blue Sweater. Written by Chris’ wife and Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz, Blue Sweater tells the story of Jacquline’s philanthropic journey via Chase Manhattan Bank, World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Stanford University, and ultimately with her own Acumen Fund. I’m not really an emotional guy. But during a TED Conference, I tend to well-up on a regular basis. It’s a combination of gratitude for just being there, a recurring sense of family and shared purpose, and simply being overwhelmed by a stream of profound “a-ha” moments. Reading this book, I kept experiencing waves of that same sense of overwhelming connectedness-to-all-creation and all people. Jacqueline’s story shrinks a very big world into a sense of common family. Her story inspires us to recognize the Other in ourselves – to remember that everything we do impacts “the least of these.” Nothing remains neutral. Some of my favorite passages from the book: Sometimes you have to be a fool or your heart can turn to stone. The big question for me: … how to strike a balance between the quest for order…with the human craving for freedom. My professors and fellow students [at Stanford] were comfortable speaking about power and money. Love and dignity, on the other hand, were words people were often embarrassed to say out loud, or so it felt. There had to be a way to combine the power, rigor, and discipline of the marketplace with the compassion I’d seen in so many of the programs aimed at the very poor. Capitalism’s future, it seemed to me then – and much more so now – rests on how much creativity and room for inclusion it can tolerate. Why do some people stop growing at age 30, just going from work to the couch and television, when others stay vibrant, curious, almost childlike, into their 80’s and 90’s? (John Gardner) When you have everything, you start to think that material things are most important. When you lose them all, at first you think that you have lost yourself, as well. But with faith, you begin to see it is only those things that you build inside – those things that no one can take away from you – that matter. Now we try to live from a place of love. And we understand that you can only have great joy if you also know great pain (Prudence, a Rwandan genocide survivor). There are none more dangerous to extremists than moderates. Our world’s challenge is not simply in determining how we punish, but instead in how we prevent the kinds of atrocities that can come only from a deep-seated fear of the Other in our midst… As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, we need to find better solutions that will include everyone in today’s opportunities. (ital mine) …in any good society, nothing justifies the powerful excluding the powerless from basic opportunities. What we need going forward is a philosophy based on human dignity, which all of us need and crave. We can end poverty if we start by looking at all human beings as part of a single global community that recognizes that everyone deserves a chance to build a life worth living. Jacqueline makes the world a better place “just by being in it.” We so need this kind of thinking, and action, right now – among all people with vision (which is everyone). Because if there’s a truth this book makes crystal clear, it is this: … All people, rich and poor, from all nations, religions, and backgrounds, are our sisters and brothers. From this place, everything else must flow. Which brings to mind a new documentary that Cathleen Falsani brought to my attention. The world is getting smaller, thanks in large part to emerging virtual tools. It’s why I call this personal journal “microclesia.” We can no longer pretend to live as though our world ends at our neighborhood, or our national border. Our very survival is at stake. UPDATE: TED’ster Seth Godin blogs Blue Sweater My friend Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund, is at the forefront of making the world smaller. She has the unique ability to combine the financial and the spiritual in a way that does justice to both. No matter what you do, the smaller world is coming to your doorstep. No matter how you spend your day, the living, breathing, interacting big world is going to touch your private one. An anonymous donor has put up $75,000 in a matching grant–if you buy the book this week, $15 will be donated to Acumen (for each of the first 5,000 copies sold). I hope you’ll take advantage and order a copy today. Thanks. UPDATE (2): Someone commented privately that the video trailer, while pointing out religion’s downside, seems to promote its own kind of “new religion” of “higher consciousness.” That’s an astute observation. In her cameo, Cathleen defines fundamentalism as “having all the answers inside a tidy little box.” We tend to label those boxes (“Higher Consciousness,” etc.) and then expend a lot of effort promoting and protecting our cherished imagery. This is a great reminder to perhaps spend less time protecting our little religious boxes and focus more on the spirituality of simply loving one’s global neighbor, and perhaps even extending good to one’s  

Viral Epiphany

The Jill Taylor TED Talk I posted the other day has generated over 150 comments. And the number of daily comments seem to be increasing. Not bad for a personal journal that averages less than 2 comments per post 🙂 When Jill gave this talk at TED, I was floored. I knew we had all just experienced something profound and incredibly powerful. The conference vibe palpably changed after Jill’s talk. TED became more open, perhaps “safer.” People were touched at a deep place they clearly weren’t expecting to be touched. I cannot recall anything ever posted on the Internet that has drawn such a unanimous outpouring of emotion, joy, and spiritual release. We need more of these kinds of cathartic, epiphanal experiences in our lives – to remind us of our deep commonality. I want to blog more on epiphany and paradigm shifting change. For now, enjoy some of the reactions I’ve copied here from Jill’s talk. tears are running down my cheeks when I imagine the beautiful world your are describing. truly this information is a gift from God. i was so freaking impressed with you doctor. i was crying so good at the end. a wonderful proud feeling to be human. it was truly a blessing for us all (your stroke) Choking on tears. Thank you. beautiful, passionate and powerful sharing. What a powerful, dynamic presentation.. you made my heart skip a beat! Thank you so very much. I am deeply moved, and quite frankly in tears. U have a remarkable message. forever will I be grateful for this video of your experience…I laughed, cried, and felt so knowing and unknowing all at the same time. I am incredibly moved to be a part of this experience with Jill What a gift! You touched my soul. I have never heard anyone describe the “eternal self” and “collective conscious” with such humility, reverance and beauty. Amazing amazing amazing exactly what we humaoids need on planet earth right now. What a passionate presentation of an extraordinary experience. One word – beautiful. How rare is it that a presenter truly puts themself out there – bare and open for the whole world to see – this is what really moved me – you touched me deep. Wow, wow and WOW! What a blessing for consciousness!!! I could experience her nourishing and rich vastness and was just left in tears… Hmmmm! – Haleluiah! Magnificent, moving, inspiring… totally put me in touch with my spirit and soul. As a meditation teacher and hospice volunteer this has deepened my life. Thank you dear Jill. Absolutely inspiring speech! It touched me and has opened my eyes to the possibilities. This a remarkable, exciting account! Thank You for this incredible information. What a moving and telling story that reveals a truth so profound. This presentation was truly inspiring! I do believe we are one and we are one of all. This is an amazing experience that proves it. Thank you Thank you Thank you! Awesome, awesome, awesome! THANK YOU FOR THE MOST WONDERFULBLESSING. This is absolutely phenomenal, brilliant, brilliant presentation. You deeply touched my heart and soul and explained for me a series of events that I have experienced over a 10 year period. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share your experience and helping me to understand my own “two worlds” experience. Fantastic, everyone should see this and be inspired to be a human BE-ing. brillant speach. thankyou. i hope to work with you one day. all love and congratulations – The light and love, Energy and vibration of this remarkable lady will shine for eternity. As a woman, mother, and teacher, Jill’s ephiphany makes me realize more than ever how far-reaching our actions are – there is NO LIMIT. AMAZING!! Your complex and invisible incidence was delivered with rare and exquisite language and emotion. Thank you from my heart of hearts for an awakening happening within my own consciousness. Thank you for giving me the words to understand my own being and responsibility better. You are a great teacher! This was an inspiring, brave, emotional, educational recount that I feel privileged to have watched. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this! It is brilliant, amazing, deeply moving! I wept with tears of joy. I must share with my loved ones! Marvelous, well presented. A touch of humor with an exsquisite story. I offer my deep respect for such an outstanding presentation. This is the most eloquent, heart-felt expose I have ever witnessed from a scientist. Inspiring! Truly brilliant!! Thank you! Jill, thank you so much – you have completely inspired me! Love to you and everyone else! What Jill is doing is phenomenal and inspiring. Thank you Ted Talks for bringing the world this extraordinary woman. And thank you Jill for your bravery… You’re words will stay with me  

Jill Taylor’s TED Talk

This is an absolute must-watch. Set aside 18 minutes and prepare to be floored. Consensus among TED’sters is that this may be the most memorable and important TED Talk ever. It was certainly the most talked-about presentation among those at TED2008. Enjoy and share with others. And let Jill’s experience inspire, motivate, and change the way you look at