Saturday, October 22, 2005

Knowledge + Empathy = Power

A dear friend, Julie, recently wrote this article for

Knowledge + Empathy = Power

Posted on October 21, 2005 at 11:33 AM

We just got a picture of our cousin proudly sporting an Israeli military uniform. Instead of enrolling in college like most freshmen his age, he opted to serve two years in the Israeli army. People think his mother is either very brave or very crazy. I think she is incredibly generous to allow her only son dedicate his life to a passion that she also understands. Aside from once hitting a hole-in-one during golf, the main item in my grandfather's obituary mentioned his thirty-year service in the Navy. It defined my grandfather, and I will always remember and love him for that.

People join such services for a wide variety of reasons - not necessarily always having something to do with sacrifice. Sometimes, it's actually for self-indulgence; the need to escape life as is. But we all know very few people who actually just go out and do it - for the sake of others' lives. Quality or quantity, it's all the same "out there" (and in a few dark corners of this country, as well).

A few months before graduation, I picked up a Peace Corps application. I slowly filled it out (one of my secrets- I love filling out forms). I made sure that my t's and i's were crossed and dotted. I never mailed it in. After all, I had my family. Cat. Boyfriend-soon-to-become-fiancé. New friends in the next city - Washington, D.C. Important stuff, you know?

Five years later - today - I feel very blessed. I have a beautiful daughter, a good job, comfortable home, dedicated husband, loyal friends, and family in good health. Basically, all the tenets of life in place. But does any of this have to do with my country? I'm living the classic American dream, thanks to the thousands - or millions? - of people who died before me. And also to people who are still dying today, not always intentionally, for the sake of their country. Does that make me feel guilty? You bet.

I hope I teach my daughter to become a "doer". The last thing I want to do is direct the course that her life takes- but I do want to, at the very least, arm her with knowledge. Living in the city of Washington, D.C. is a wonderful place to do just that. Next to serving in the military, I think the next best thing you can do is to teach the next generation the meaning of life, and how it is generated from sacrifice.